The holidays are an exciting time for children. But between playful reunions and hectic schedules, it’s easy for a child to wind up in the emergency room.
Dr. Ameera Nauman and advanced nurse practitioner Elizabeth Schmerold, part of the OSF HealthCare Medical Group pediatric care team, urge parents to be aware of these top five things that can put a wrinkle in your holiday plans.
Flu, illness or fever
Wherever there is a large gathering of people, there’s a risk of spreading bacteria and viruses.
“Even with a greater exposure to people, you can practice healthy lifestyle choices to protect your children,” Dr. Nauman said. “Everyone should wash their hands frequently, especially before meals, and you should try to maintain their sleep schedule.
“If your child has a fever or appears to be ill, you should keep them away from other children.”
Visiting relatives can expose your child to pets that could be scared by the change in routine.
“Friendly pets can become scared and bite. Children can add to the animal’s stress because children tend to hug on the animal,” Schmerold said. “Other times animals can feel the need to protect their immediate family. Children wrestling can trigger that instinct.
“You should warn your child to stay away from pets you aren’t 100 percent sure about.”
Family reunions can lead to rough-housing for excited children.
“Children are energetic and curious and can push each other to the limit,” Dr. Nauman said. “If all the adults or older children watch out for the little ones, your gatherings will be safe and more fun.”
Being exposed to new foods or geographical locations can trigger allergies.
“Exposure to new things might trigger a reaction that is unexpected,” Dr. Nauman said. “Allergic reactions are often mild, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. Some reactions can be serious.
“The most common signs of a serious reaction are coughing, difficulty or irregular breathing, abdominal pain and difficulty swallowing. Make sure everyone knows if your child has severe allergic reactions to certain things like peanuts or insect stings.”
Foreign objects in the body
New toys can lead to sometimes dangerous situations.
“Children playing with toys that are not age-appropriate can lead to small pieces ending up in a nostril or ear canal,” Schmerold said. “But the biggest dangers are choking hazards and poisons.
“Ensure children are playing safely, and poisons, like laundry pods, are out of reach.