The Holiday season is now in full swing and with all the joy and splendor of the season, it’s important to remember that amongst the parties, decorating, and traveling, it’s essential to follow some basic safety measures to ensure everyone stays safe while having fun.
Traveling long distances anytime of the year carries risks and the holiday season is no exception. If you are planning to travel for the holidays, consider utilizing airline travel or another form of transportation, if possible, as travel by car carries the highest risk.
If you will be traveling by car, be sure to leave early and take your time; you should expect more traffic than normal. Also, make sure that everyone in your vehicle uses their seat belt. If you will be traveling in an area prone to ice or snow, ensure that your car is ready for potential winter elements by taking the following steps:
- Check Tire Tread/Pressure
- Purchase All Season or Snow Tires, if necessary
- Change Your Oil & Antifreeze
- Check Your Heater
- Inspect Your Battery
- Check Your Windshield, Wipers, and Fluid
- Inspect Headlights/Brake Lights
- Put an Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle
As the driver, you should also ensure that you are not driving drowsy, distracted, or under the influence. Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road, put your phone away, and never consume alcohol or other substances, including prescription drugs, before or during the time you are operating the vehicle. If you do plan to consume alcohol or other substances, make sure you plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
If you plan to decorate for the holiday season, indoors or outdoors, be sure to follow safety measures while decorating to keep yourself and others safe from injury.
If you are setting up a tree for the holidays, ensure that you place your tree at least 3 feet from any heat source and in a position where it does not block doorways. If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as fire resistant. And if you are using a live tree, ensure you keep it properly watered and remove it from your home when it becomes dry.
If you are setting up strings of lights, follow the directions on the package, using indoor lights only indoors and outdoor lights only outdoors and ensuring you do not plug too many strands into one outlet. You should also keep an eye out for any broken, cracked, or frayed wires or components. If the lights show any of these signs, they should be discarded. When hanging the lights, ensure you use your ladder properly to avoid falls and keep the lights off the ground and away from water and snow. If you have small children or pets – or anticipate visitors that do – ensure you keep any potentially poisonous plants, fragile décor, and candles/fires out of reach.
Lastly, do not leave your lights or decorations turned on unattended. Shut them off before heading to bed or leaving the house. One great option to ensure you don’t forget this step is to purchase a timer to automatically turn your lights on and off at specific times.
Especially with the increased amount of décor, clutter, and people, fire hazards can quickly become much more dangerous during the holiday season. According to the National Safety Council, “the National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source.”
Keeping this in mind, being especially careful around candles, fireplaces, and other open flames should be a priority. Consider using flameless candles, especially near flammable objects and if you do use real candles, keep them away from areas where they may be knocked over. Once the candles are lit, keep any lighters or matches out of reach of children. Maintain your fireplace year-round and be sure not to use it if it is blocked or dirty. Always use a screen when the fire is burning and if you are using a gas fireplace, remember that you should not ignite the fireplace if the glass is removed, cracked or broken. Do not burn miscellaneous items, such as wrapping paper or trees, in the fireplace.
Part of prepping the holiday feast, both the initial meal and leftovers, is to be mindful of best practices concerning food safety. When preparing your meal:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Keep raw meat away from other foods, utensils, etc.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination
- Ensure food is cooked to the right internal temperature by using a food thermometer
After the feast is over, be careful to properly store and reheat the leftovers:
- Refrigerate leftover food within two hours
- Discard remaining leftovers after three to four days
- Fully reheat any leftover food before eating
The holidays are a time to celebrate with one another and enjoy time relaxing together. Keep everyone safe around by following these best practices and ensure you all enjoy the holidays.