Holiday Health and Safety Tips

The holiday season provides a wonderful opportunity to spend with friends and family, celebrate the season, and start planning for the new year. It's also a great time to reconsider your health and safety habits. Here are some helpful tips to stay healthy and safe this holiday season. 

Wash your hands! Keep your hands clean to avoid illness and the spreading of germs. Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 30 seconds each time you use the bathroom and before handling any food. Cover your mouth with a tissue or your upper arm/elbow if you have to cough or sneeze; do not sneeze or cough into your hands! 

Stay dry and warm. As the temperatures drop, infants and elderly adults are more susceptible to the cold weather. Stay indoors when temperatures are below freezing, and if you have to go outside, make sure your clothing is dry. Dress in multiple layers and always wear a hat and gloves to keep warm!

Don't stress! While this time of the year can wear you down financially, it's important to manage your stress. Create a budget for holiday spending, get adequate sleep, and make a plan to balance your work, family, and free time. Ask your friends and family for support and remember to relax and enjoy the holiday season.

Be careful while traveling. No matter how far you go – whether it's across the country or across the street – travel safely. Don't drink a drive; always designate a sober driver. Always buckle your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are also buckled in safely. Make sure children are in appropriate booster seats and distractions are limited while driving. Always look both ways before crossing the street, and wear brightly colored clothing if going out after dark. Make sure your vehicle is operating properly in cold weather, and the tires are holding adequate pressure. Keep an emergency kit in your car with extra clothes and blankets. 

Schedule your annual check-up. If you haven't been to the doctor in a while, now is a good time to schedule your annual check-ups and vaccinations – for you and your family. Regular screenings and exams can help you discover potential problems early, and help you plan treatment options or lifestyle changes for the year to come. Vaccinations like the flu shot can help prevent diseases and illnesses, and even save lives. Schedule a visit with your family doctor and ask about what vaccinations and tests you should receive based on your age, lifestyle, and family history. 

Keep an eye on the kids! This time of year has children very excited and sometimes more rambunctious. Children are at a higher risk for injuries when they are horseplaying. Keep watch and remove potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and choking hazards that might be within a child's reach. Consider learning child and infant CPR, and learn how to provide treatment for a child who is choking. Set ground rules and encourage safe behavior. 

Be careful when decorating. Always use a step stool, avoid climbing on furniture, and have a friend or family member nearby to spot you when hanging decorations. Replace old or damaged electronics and lights to prevent electrical fires. Be aware of weight limits and make sure all hanging decorations are properly secured to prevent anything falling down on someone's head! 

Review fire safety techniques. Too many residential fires happen during winter months. Keep candles and hot lights away from flammable materials like curtains, trees, and garland. Never leave fireplaces, candles, stoves, or children unattended. Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors are working properly and all batteries are fresh. Do not use grills or other burning devices inside your home or garage. Turn off your Christmas tree lights at night and when you leave the house. 

Prepare and handle holiday food safely! Avoid food-borne illnesses by washing your hands and countertops often. Keep raw meat and poultry away from other foods and cook everything to the proper temperature. Use a food thermometer to make sure! Refrigerate foods that need to be kept cold, and do not leave out perishable food on the counter for more than 2 hours. 

Updated on December 4, 2014

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