The winter holiday season is in full swing. This means that decorations are out, traffic is getting worse and everyone is preparing for their own celebrations with family and friends. However, as with any holiday, it is important to prepare to celebrate safely. From ensuring that your decorations are not posing any fire hazards to making sure your car is prepared for winter travel there are many holiday safety aspects that should be considered when preparing and making plans.
The holidays can be a stressful time, but being mindful of some holiday safety tips we’ve outlined below can help keep your holiday safe, happy and healthy.
For the 2018 season, AAA has forecasted a record holiday travel season, with an estimated 112.5 million Americans preparing to travel for the holidays. This includes driving, flying, trains, buses and other forms of transport. With that many people on the move, it is important to give yourself plenty of time so that you are not rushing to your final destination. As well, make sure that your vehicle is prepared for travel so that you do not end up stranded due to an issue that might have been prevented by regular maintenance.
If there will be alcohol consumption, always make sure there is a designated driver to get your friends and family home safely. While traveling in a car, always make sure children and adults are properly buckled up and the driver is able to operate the vehicle distraction free. If you’re flying, prepare for potential delays due to weather or backups by having extra items with you that can help you pass the time waiting more calmly.
Although holiday travel cannot always be avoided, it’s important to be aware of potential issues that can arise and prepare yourself to handle them in a way that won’t cause problems. Lastly, be aware of changing travel and weather conditions. If you are in an area that experiences snow or icy conditions, be prepared to either change plans to not put yourself in a dangerous position, or ensure that your vehicle is ready for driving in winter weather. Take a look at NSC’s winter driving tips for more information.
Holiday decorations are a beautiful and unique way to celebrate the season. However, these festive celebrations can present fire risks that can quickly turn dangerous. The National Fire Protection Association reported that between 2012 and 2016, US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 800 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 34 civilian fire injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. Christmas trees during that same time frame were responsible for 170 home fires annually.
When choosing your decorations, choose flame resistant or flame retardant ones. Always keep lit candles away from flammable items such as decorations. If you choose a live tree for your decorations, make sure to water it often, and if you choose a fake tree, also choose one that is flame resistant/retardant. Be sure to test your smoke alarms to ensure that they are properly working. And remember to turn off your light decorations when not home or asleep. For more information on fire safety regarding decorations, take a look at the NFPA’s resources.
The holidays would not be complete without delicious meals with family and friends. However, it is important to follow certain tips to avoid food poisoning and other food related issues. The Department of Health and Human Services provided comprehensive holiday food safety tips, here are a few to keep in mind:
- Keep raw meat, fish and poultry separate from prepared food.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature.
- Refrigerate food within two hours.
- Perishable food that is kept in the danger zone (between 40 and 140) for longer than two hours should be thrown out.
- When transporting food, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot to avoid the danger zone.
The holidays involve a lot of gift giving to friends, families and coworkers. When choosing gifts, be sure to be mindful of their safety aspect. For instance, small children should not receive toys with small parts which may be a choking hazard. Certain plants can also be a dangerous gift to give to someone with pets, as they can be poisonous to animals. As well, always be sure to check for recalls on any toys prior to purchasing.