Staying safe during the holidays

Published 11:01 am Monday, December 4, 2023

Christmas is my favorite time of the year and is officially underway. Family events, church gatherings and holiday parties fill our calendars between now and New Year’s, and I find myself traveling more than usual. Since I am fresh off a Thanksgiving flight, I’ve increased my daily vitamin regimen to stay well for the holidays. This article is an excellent time to share tips to help you stay holiday-safe.

Especially during flu season, always wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs, and if you are sick, stay HOME to slow the spread of respiratory viruses. Remember to wear appropriate outdoor clothing like layers, gloves, hats, scarves and waterproof boots, and give yourself a stress-free break by connecting socially and getting plenty of sleep

When decorating your home, keep poisonous plants out of reach of children or pets (mistletoe, holly berries, and amaryllis), and make sure artificial trees are “fire resistant.”

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For live trees, expose at least three inches at the base for better water absorption. Keep live trees watered and remove them from your home when they are dry, and be sure to keep your tree three feet away from fireplaces and other heat sources. Place breakable ornaments higher on the tree and out of reach of children (and cats!)

Use outdoor lights outdoors and indoor lights indoors, practice extra caution when using ladders and do not overload circuits with too many sets of lights. Never nail, tack or staple wiring when hanging lights and remember to keep plugs off the ground away from snow and water. Turn off decorations when you leave home or go to bed

Using fireplaces, holiday candles and combustible seasonal decorations means more risk for fire. Consider flameless rather than lighted candles. Always safely place candles where they cannot be knocked down and out of reach of children, and keep matches and lighters out of reach of children. Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended.

Also, don’t burn wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace and always use a screen on the fireplace. 

Keep your holidays happy by safely preparing and handling food: wash your hands frequently, keep raw meat away from fresh produce and use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats. Refrigerate hot or cold leftover food within two hours of being served. Store leftovers in smaller portions so they will chill quickly; leftovers are safe for three to four days when adequately refrigerated.

Give gifts that are age-appropriate. Thousands of children are injured in toy-related accidents each year. Buy age-appropriate toys rated for the child’s intellect and physical ability , and be cautious about toys with removable parts. Batteries, buttons, magnets, and other removable parts can be fatal if swallowed. Also, riding toys should be appropriate for age, and children should always wear adequately sized helmets.

The highest fatalities per passenger mile for all forms of transportation is by car. And we’re on the road more during the holidays than at any other time. Alcohol impairment is involved in about a third of holiday fatalities. 

If traveling by car this season, make sure your car is in good running condition and prepared for winter driving. Expect heavy traffic. Insist everyone buckles up and consider packing an “emergency bag” in your vehicle that has a blanket and survival gear.

Sobriety saves lives. At gatherings, it’s important to provide a variety of alcohol-free drinks—water, juices, sparkling sodas—and only drink alcohol in moderation. Always use designated drivers or a car service for those who’ve consumed alcohol. Healthy foods can slow the absorption of alcohol and reduce peak levels of blood alcohol by about one-third. 

You see and hear holiday messages all around during this time of year. At St. Luke’s, we hope you enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season with those you love.