Tips for kid-friendly homes during the holidays

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November 30, 2013, 7:53 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Bruce Hensel) - The holiday season is here and many parents will be buying toys for gifts, but many homeowners aren't aware of hidden hazards in their home that could pose a threat to children.

Ani Pereira-Sekhon never worried about household dangers until she had a baby.
 
"You start thinking, well, what I am putting in my body?  What's around?  What's in my environment?  What can I do to make sure this person is safe?" said Pereira-Sekhon.
 
Every parent needs to think about hidden risks- knowing what they are and a few simple steps will protect your family.
 
The first danger is phthalates and BPA: Some of these chemicals were banned five years ago but there are trace amounts in many plastic bottles, cans and containers. The key to protection is on the containers in triangles and numbers. Products with the numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 inside the triangle are the safest.
 
The second danger is the home itself.
 
"Many homes, particularly older homes still have lead and asbestos in them," said Dr. Dean Baker, the director at the Center for Occupational Environmental Health.
 
This can cause serious lung and brain problems. Most homes built after 1970 don't contain these, but have an expert check.
 
Third, furniture may contain fire retardants. Studies have shown they may cause cancer. Most forms have been banned too but better to be safe than sorry. Check labels and don't let your kids play with broken furniture, especially the stuffing inside the couch.
 
Fourth, the most common household cleaners may contain poisons. Read the labels too and keep them locked up high. Labels that say natural or green are not a guarantee.  Read all the ingredients carefully.

And fifth and the most important this time of year, toys aren’t always safe. Make sure toys are labeled with what age they are best suited for. For little ones, the bigger the toy the better, and for the older kids, be on the lookout for toys that come apart.

Also, check out your electrical set up. Extension cords should be tied down and electrical outlets are covered.
 
It sounds like a lot to worry about, but these steps can add up to safety during the holidays and all year long.

Tags: holidays, hazards, BPA, NBC News, Bruce Hensel, phthalates, Ani Pereira-Sekhon, Dr. Dean Baker
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