Ten Safety Tips for your Child’s Next Birthday Party
Most children’s birthday parties are generally safe, but accidents do happen, and it’s always better to be prepared – just in case. Some birthday party staples like food, party favors and balloons may be a bit more dangerous than you may think. Here are ten tips to help you keep your child and his or her friends safe at a birthday party.
1. Food Safety and Allergies
Food allergies are becoming quite common in children, and food poisoning can be a problem at birthday parties too. To avoid children getting sick, make sure all food is cooked thoroughly, and cover and refrigerate food and drink until the children are ready to eat. Leaving food out all afternoon can cause food to spoil.
Another tip: ask parents to let you know about any food allergies when they RSVP for your child’s birthday party.
Another tip: ask parents to let you know about any food allergies when they RSVP for your child’s birthday party. Also ask that parents of children with food allergies bring an EpiPen in preparation for accidental allergic reactions. One of the most common food allergies in children is peanuts which are an added ingredient in many foods. Doing your due diligence ahead of time by simply asking parents about their child’s allergies can help avoid an adverse reaction.
And though it’s not a food allergy, another helpful tip is to be on the lookout for bees if children are playing outside. If a child gets stung, keep a close eye on them, and call 911 at the first sign of difficulty breathing. Unless the child has been stung before, the child and his or her parents may not know he or she is allergic. Keeping an eye out during the party can go a long way to avoid a stinging situation.
There are additional safety checks you can do when preparing food at birthday parties. For summer parties, often a grill – either gas or charcoal – is involved for cooking. If you’re cooking with charcoal, be sure to douse the coals with water before dumping them out. Charcoal can get up to a sweltering 1,000 degrees and could easily be stepped on by a barefoot child playing in the yard.
Has your grill been recalled? The government SaferProducts.gov website can help you search for product recalls. And have you inspected your grill lately? Loose or cracked hoses can be a safety hazard. Perform a quick safety check on all the components of your grill.
Keeping a spray bottle or fire extinguisher handy for wild flames is always a good idea. If the wind picks up or some food gets into the grill, a flame could flare up and engulf the entire grill in minutes. Additionally, be sure to keep children away from the grill area.
There’s nothing like enjoying the char grilled taste of a hot dog or hamburger during the summer. The next time you’re getting ready to light up the grill, however, make sure you and your guests are safe by following a few of the suggestions above.
Believe it or not, hot dogs are the food that children most commonly choke on. Hot dogs are also a popular birthday party food, as they are inexpensive and easy to prepare. Not to mention they just taste good! Hard candy, marshmallows, and gum are other common culprits — also often found at birthday parties.
The risk of choking doesn’t mean that you can’t serve hot dogs or hard candy, but it does mean that you should use good judgment. Make sure that children are properly supervised — ask another parent to stay, or hire your sitter to come and help, so children are supervised at all times. If one of you knows CPR, even better!
4. Balloons and Party Favors
Balloons are another common choking hazard. Think about it: children see adults put balloons in their mouth to blow them up all the time. An ambitious child might put their mouth on an inflated balloon, popping it with their teeth and then sucking it into their throat when they inhale. Good supervision and use of foil balloons instead of latex can help prevent this from happening.
Other party favors can be choking hazards as well. Protect yourself by making sure that party favors are age-appropriate: For instance, don’t give toddlers party favors with small parts, such as marbles or cars with wheels that could come off. A bit of common sense goes a long way.
Plus, some children’s birthday parties might be age appropriate for one child, but unsafe for another. If your pre-teens are celebrating a birthday, it might be a good idea to let your toddler stay with grandparents so as to avoid a possibly unsafe situation.
5. Piñata Safety
Piñatas are a fun activity for both children and adults, and taking safety precautions will ensure no one gets hurt by a crazy swing and miss. First, designate a space far enough away from the piñata for guests to sit or stand and watch the person up at bat, with no chance of innocent bystanders getting hit.
Next, make sure everyone understands the rules:
- You are in charge of the bat.
- Everyone gets a turn until the piñata is broken open.
- On each child’s turn, he or she gets two strikes to the piñata
- When his or her turn is over, the bat is returned to an adult
- Everyone must wait in the designated safe area until their turn
Once the piñata breaks and the candy falls out, usually the children will go wild, so make sure you’ve supplied all the children with bags for their candy. Also, not all of the candy will fall out when the piñata breaks, which gives you the opportunity to spread the candy around for all of the children to enjoy.
6. Jump Castles or Moon Bounces
Jump castles and moon bounces are becoming quite common at birthday parties. It’s not all that expensive to rent one for the duration of the party, and they are even available to buy on your own. Besides, how else will children wear off all the added sugar from the cake and ice cream? Keep children safe and do your due diligence by:
- Hiring a reputable company and ask to see safety certificates for the equipment
- Limiting the number of children who can be inside the unit at one time and make sure they aren’t wearing belts, shoes or jewelry that may cause injury while in the unit
- Prohibiting food and drink as they can make the area slippery
- Ensuring children vacate the unit if wind picks up
7. Clowns, Magicians, and Party Entertainers
With all the possibilities to entertain children at a birthday party, hiring a clown, magician or other party entertainer is one of the most popular. Children love to see magic tricks performed, interact with Bozo the Clown, play with balloon animals or see something they’ve never seen before. As the party organizer, it’s best to call the entertainers references before the party to get a feel for the demeanor of the entertainer, how well they interacted with children, and how well the entertainer was perceived by the children. Some party planning experts suggest avoiding clowns at birthday parties for children under four as they may be frightened by heavily made-up clowns.
Also recommended is to get a description of the entertainer’s act in advance to ensure it’s appropriate for your guests and get specifics on what type of participation is required during their act. Covering all your bases will certainly help address any possible issue that might put a damper on your child’s special day.
8. Petting Zoo
Children love petting zoos and animals are a great addition to birthday parties that can make a child’s birthday party extremely memorable and a learning opportunity. However, animals are animals – and will often nip little fingers when tempted with food. To help prevent this, show all birthday party guests how to properly offer an animal a treat (on a flat palm) before entering the petting zoo. Asking parents to stay to help out at the party or hiring a sitter to help you with the children is also a good idea.
Hire a company that you’ve done your research on: do they have USDA certification? Do they have full liability coverage? Will they provide multiple staffers to educate and monitor the children?
Also, be sure to follow these safety tips when it comes to animals at a birthday party:
- Make sure the children wash their hands after petting the animals, especially before eating and drinking
- Keep food and drinks out of animal areas.
- Advise children not to share their food with the animals
- Never allow children to put their hands or objects (for example: pacifiers) in their mouth while interacting with animals
9. Swimming Pools
If you have a swimming pool and small children, most likely you have already taken the necessary precautions to protect them from falling into the pool – such as a tall fence around the pool, a childproof gate, and a cover. If you’re planning a pool party, keep it small, get permission from parents, and make sure there are always at least two adults present while the children are in the water.
Pool parties for children are a great way to cool down during summer months and also give you the opportunity to teach children about pool safety. Take the time to teach children how to stay safe around water by trying out a few water safety games. Here are some additional water safety tips.
If you don’t have any safety measures in place, however, be sure to keep the party away from the pool area. If feasible, have the party in the front yard instead of the back, lock all doors leading to the pool or backyard, and don’t forget about the doggie doors too. Some experts even suggest putting chimes or alarms on all of the doors exiting to your pool, so if a child wanders away from the party, you’re immediately notified. If you’re set on having the party outside, consider renting a fence if you don’t have one barricading children from the pool area.
10. Household Accidents
Don’t forget that accidents can happen any time, anywhere. Something as simple as the children playing with your dog a little too rough or getting him excited about a toy can lead to a bitten child. A child could just as easily trip running down the stairs, fall off the swing set in your backyard or accidently run into a sliding glass door. Children will be children after all. As the supervising parent, all you can do is to try to identify and minimize potential hazards: Put the dog in the bedroom for the duration of the party, admonish children not to run inside or outside the house, supervise them in the backyard, child proof your home with decals on sliding glass doors, and so on. Always ensure you have parents’ contact information for each of the children present for those just in case instances.
By performing safety checks and with a dash of common sense, you’ll be prepared to do your best at making your children’s special day safe. Sure it might seem tedious, but safety checks can go a long way toward keeping your children and guests happy and healthy.