The festive season is fast approaching, and it is a well-deserved opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. However, the joy of the holidays can quickly turn tragic if you are not careful. Emergency rooms visits and the number of calls to first responders see a sharp increase during the final few weeks of the year. It is possible to avoid a holiday disaster by following a few simple guidelines to help safeguard you and your family.
Ways to Stay Safer During This Year’s Holidays
Avoiding Decorating Disasters
- Inspect your holiday decorations before putting them out. Even if you took the time to double check your decorations before storing them, look again. Check for frayed wires, loose connections, broken bulbs, and other fire hazards.
- Ensure outside decorations are weather-resistant. Never assume that all decorations are suitable for hanging both indoors and outdoors. Look at the tag and make sure that the item has an outdoor rating from Underwriters Laboratory (UL) before using it anywhere it may get wet.
- Don’t put yourself at risk for injuries. While decorating your entire home in lights and figures may look amazing, don’t try to do more than you can do safely. Make sure you know what you are doing before you try to climb a ladder or secure a holiday scene to the top of your roof.
- Stay away from candles. While no one can deny that real flames add a magical warmth to your home, burning candles can significantly increase the chance of a house fire. You are more at risk if you have young children or pets at home. There are many LED candle lights which offer a similar, but much safer, candlelight effect.
- Don’t leave your decorations on the entire night Besides saving energy and money, using a timer switch to turn your decorations off at a reasonable time each evening can prevent a fire from breaking out while you sleep. Homeowners who have plans to go away for the holidays should completely unplug decorations until they return home.
Don’t Cook Up a Disaster
- Keep kids out of harm’s way. Cooking with your kids during the holidays can be a great experience. Prevent little ones from being injured by ensuring they stay away from the stove and never allowing them to use sharp knives. Instead, give them simple, safe tasks like kneading dough or decorating cookies.
- Watch your food temperatures. Many cooks only cook large roasts or whole turkeys during the holidays. For cooks with less experience, it is easy to undercook the meat resulting in serious illnesses. Always follow a recipe and use a meat thermometer to ensure the food thoroughly cooked.
- Make sure your stove and oven are off. It is easy to become distracted and forget to turn appliances off. Do yourself a favor and double check before going to bed for the night.
Keeping Healthy and Secure During Holiday Travels
- Give yourself plenty of travel time. Driving during the holidays often means huge delays, so leave early enough so you won’t need to rush to get to where you are going on time. Take the time to plan out food and bathroom breaks before hitting the road. This step is particularly helpful if you are traveling with children or other passengers who may need special considerations.
- Always use seat belts and properly installed car seats. Seat belts and car seats save lives, so there is no excuse not to use them correctly. Buckle up even if you are only heading down the street to pick up a last-minute gift.
- Never use a cell phone while driving. Increasingly people are depending on driving apps to find the best way of getting to their destinations. Although these apps work well, they can become a distraction if you need to interact with your phone physically. Set your destination before leaving or have a passenger handle the navigation and concentrate on the road.
- Be extra careful when driving in neighborhoods. During vacations from school, expect to see more children outside at all hours of the day and night. Reduce your driving speed and stay alert for people who may dart out in front of your vehicle.
- Even one drink may be too much. If you are planning to attend holiday parties where they serve alcohol, imbibe responsibly and never drive unless you are completely sober. It is always a better idea to have a designated driver or use an alternative means of getting home to avoid a life-changing accident.
Keep these tips in mind this holiday season, and we wish you a joyful time full of beautiful memories.