author of Feeding Eden

Allergies or Not . . . Holiday Safety

The holidays are not easy. Festive? Sure. Warm and Fuzzy? At times. Stressful? Utterly. Think about it - between Thanksgiving and New Years we feel pressured to purchase the “right” presents, to procure the requisite goodies (i.e. your class parent emails a request for two dozen cupcakes A.S.A.P), and to fancy up our homes before your children start fantasizing about putting hanging their stocking over at our neighbor’s twinkling hearth.

What with Eden's food allergies, I figured I was already dressed in parenting safety stripes. Then, one of my friends from Food Allergy Living asked me if I was interested in holiday safety? I was. And after talking about about holiday safety hazards with an expert at CSA International, a leading testing, certification and anti-counterfeiting organization, I realized even the most cautious parents often silence their inner Smoky Bear. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid typical mishaps while proving to your children that you are, in fact, the greatest parent ever - if only for a few weeks. Try using these rules of thumb this holiday season:

If it seems too good to be true . . . it is. Did you just find the perfect DVD player for your teenager at half the cost? Are there misspelled graphics on the package holding the last “Hot Weels!” car on the shelf? Low prices, misspelled words, lack of a brand identifier and even a light or flimsy feel to a product can indicate counterfeit. It’s not worth buying. Counterfeit toys or electronics can give kids electrical shocks and expose children to cheap toxic “filler” materials. I follow the same “too good to be true” rule for my son’s food allergies. For example, if bake sale Oreos are not in the original packaging (think: cute little cellophane bags) I don’t buy them even if they are being sold for pennies. If I can’t confirm the ingredients from the label, it's a "deal breaker."

Kids appreciate simplicity as much as we do. Keep it mind when hauling boxes of tinsel and tangled light strings out of storage this year. I’ll never forget the weekend that I drove everyone in my family crazy trying to make egg-less French toast only to have the little guy turn to me and say, “Mommy, no offense but I really just like toast. Like, just toast.” According to the CSA International, each year, thousands of house fires occur during the holiday season and injure nearly 2,000 adults and children and cause over $990 million in damage. If you don’t have the time to thoroughly check last year’s lights for hazards like frayed cords or correct voltage, then you might want to consider an incandescent free holiday. Your kids might just think it’s kinda cool to be Green.

Don’t re-make the wheel. There are resources available to help busy parents find out what’s safe for their children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a great place to start if you are unsure about a toy, game or tool. Their website lists product recalls and much more. And if, like me, food allergens concerns you then go to where food recalls are constantly updated as well.