Keeping your family safe during the holidays starts with knowing what the dangers are. This page will outline the common hazards regarding the primary winter holidays like, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years. Browse the smart menu on the left for safety tips on other holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July.

Child safety over the winter holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, & New Years

The winter holiday season poses several primary safety hazards to your family.

Fire dangers during the holiday season

Fire danger spikes around the winter holiday season to its highest levels of the year. Residential fire dangers in December and January are double what they are during the summer months. Winter itself tends to be a busy time for firefighters, since the cold weather prompts the use of space heaters, fires in the fireplace, and other potentially dangerous methods of keeping warm. When you add to this volatile mix the use of holiday candles, Christmas lights, people bringing trees inside their home, and spending more time cooking extravagant meals, the winter holiday season becomes the deadliest time of the year for house fires. Curiously enough, even the incidence of children playing with fire peaks around the winter holidays, likely due to a combination of lax supervision and increased curiosity inspired by all the holiday decorations.

Child poisonings around the Christmas holiday

Accidental poisonings in children tend to spike around the holidays, and this is for a couple of reasons. First, children are often visiting the homes of relatives, including grandparents, who may not be used to having kids in the house. This means childproofing is often at a minimal, and kids gain access to things they shouldn’t. Second, even when the relatives are visiting YOUR home, aunts, uncles, and grandparents often bring medications with them inside purses or in travel packs or other accessible containers. Since the medication of relatives is responsible for a sizeable chunk of child poisonings, this makes the holiday season a particularly dangerous time.

Child accidents over the holidays

Preoccupied parents = lax supervision. Add this combination to things like children spending time in other houses, many different age groups interacting together, restless kids crammed indoors, and brand new toys (many of which can be dangerous to younger kids), and you end up with an increase in child accidents over the winter holidays.

Drunk driving during the holidays

Over the winter holidays, 2-3X more people die in alcohol-related vehicle crashes than during comparable time periods the rest of the year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And about 40% of traffic fatalities during winter holidays involve an impaired driver, compared with 28% for other deaths in December. New Years eve gets the most attention for drunk driving, but other times around the holidays can be just as dangerous. (Note that the aforementioned statistic excludes most drunk driving that occurs on New Years, since these accidents tend to take place after midnight and are tallied in January statistics.) In addition to drinking during holiday celebrations, you also get increased drinking from those who are depressed, downbeat or distraught around this time of the year.

Holiday home burglary risks

Home burglary risks increase during the holidays, as thieves take advantage of the fact that many families will be out of town. So keep your eyes peeled for suspicious behavior, and if leaving town, let your trusted neighbors know and ask them to do the same.

Other resources for family safety during the holidays