Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, the time when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes. By taking some basic precautions, you can ensure your whole family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.
Holidays and candles go together like children and toys.
Twelve percent of home candle fires occur in December, according to a report issued in 2013 by the National Fire Protection Association. Increased use of candles combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire. The top three days for home-candle fires were Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
About 2,200 deaths were caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries in 2013, according
Injury Facts 2015, a statistical report on unintentional injuries and death produced by the National Safety Council.
To prevent fire in your home:
- Never leave burning candles unattended; blow them out when you leave a room
- Keep candles out of reach of children
- Never sleep in a room with a lit candle and extinguish all candles before going to sleep
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces, where they can't easily be knocked over
- Don't burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
- Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends checking and cleaning the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
It's Better to Give ... Safely
We've all heard it's important when choosing toys for infants or small children to avoid
small parts that can be pulled or broken off and might prove to be a choking hazard. Here are some additional gift-related safety tips you might not have heard about:
Putting up decorations is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, however an estimated
15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating were seen in emergency rooms during the 2012 season. Even angel hair can hurt.
- "Angel hair" is made from spun glass, and it can irritate your eyes and skin; always wear gloves when handling it, or substitute non-flammable cotton
- When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully; these sprays can irritate your lungs if inhaled
- Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
- Always use the
proper step ladder; don't stand on chairs or other furniture
- Lights are among the best parts of holiday decorating; make sure there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets
- Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets; the national
Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222
- Make sure paths are clear indoors so older adults do not trip on wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.; NSC provides tips for older adults on
slip, trip and fall protections
Many people choose to travel during the holiday by automobile, with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. In 2013, 343 people died on New Year's Day, 360 on Thanksgiving Day and 88 on Christmas Day, according to
Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals.
Remember, when guests are staying in your home, make sure areas have night lights or easy-to-reach lamps in case they need to get up during the night. And, whether you are visiting someone else's home or you have guests in your home, make sure all medications are kept
up and away and out of sight from young children.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides some
holiday food safety tips. Here are a few:
- Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature
- Refrigerate food within two hours
- Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for four days in the refrigerator
- Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating
- When storing turkey, be sure to cut the leftovers in small pieces so it will chill quicker
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food