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December 9, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains Travel, Home Hazards Pose Potential Risks to Children

December 9, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains Travel, Home Hazards Pose Potential Risks to Children

NEENAH, Wis. – Children and parents alike anticipate the fun and memories brought by the holiday season. Even the joy of gift-giving and travel can pose some potential dangers for kids, especially the youngest ones.

“Typically, when we talk about holiday safety, we start with travel because a lot of families will be out on the roads,” said Jennifer Szmanda, DO, of ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics-Neenah. “One thing parents might not know is that kids in car seats should not wear thick coats.”

Car seat straps can compress the thick layers down during an accident, making seat belts less effective, Dr. Szmanda said. Instead, parents should dress small children in thinner layers and place the coat or a blanket over them to ensure the seat belts work correctly.

Another concern with travel is the potential exposure to illness during big family gatherings.

“Remember it’s okay to say ‘no’ to requests to hold your baby if you’re concerned about illness,” Dr. Szmanda said. “And make sure to wash or sanitize your hands frequently.”

Home safety

While you’re enjoying the holidays at home, reduce the risk of fires by ensuring your artificial tree is fire resistant, and keep real trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other potential sources of fire, she said. Never leave candles unattended and always make sure the Christmas tree has plenty of water.

Additionally, be careful with decorations, particularly electric ones.

“Small children can be fascinated with plugging things in, but we don’t want children playing with electrical sockets,” Dr. Szmanda said. “Teaching kids that this is what mommies and daddies do can help them to know outlets are off-limits.”

Kids love to help decorate for the holidays. Parents should take care to ensure glass ornaments and other sharp decorations remain out of reach of young children. Decorations, candy and other small objects can pose a choking hazard.

“If an item can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it can cause choking,” Dr. Szmanda said. “It’s important we always keep these potential hazards in the back of our mind.”

Gifts and plants

Some gift items may contain button batteries, which pose a significant hazard to children.

“Button batteries are something that we really worry about,” she said. “If they are ingested, it is a medical emergency and oftentimes results in surgery.”

Holiday gift plants that people like to exchange also can be toxic to children and pets. Holly berries are toxic if swallowed, and mistletoe and poinsettias can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.

Keep them out of reach of young children. Caregivers can also check for more information, or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. If a child has ingested a button battery, call 911.

“The holidays are a great time to be with friends and family,” Dr. Szmanda said. “If we keep a close eye on our little ones, it will help us all enjoy the season.” 

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.