With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, a few things are bound to go awry. Read on to ensure you are following or implementing these key tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this time of year.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported the following statistics for 2015-2019:
- Cooking Accidents were the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Candle Accidents caused 7,400 home fires, 90 deaths, and 670 injuries per year.
- Holiday Decorations Accidents occur every year due to faulty wires sparking, decorations with candles/open flames, and dried-out (extra flammable) Christmas trees.
In addition to having an accessible fire extinguisher on hand and regularly testing your smoke alarms, the NFPA recommends implementing and following these fire safety tips:
Cooking Safety Tips
- Avoid cooking if you are not completely alert. Fatigue, distractions and alcohol consumption can impact your ability to recognize and deal with a cooking hazard.
- Do not leave the stove unattended when it is turned on.
- Avoid keeping recipes, books, or other flammable items near open-flame stovetops.
In the Event of a Cooking Fire
Get out if the fire is too large or unwieldy to put out quickly. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire, and call 9-1-1.
If you choose to fight the fire, first make sure that there is an easy escape route, and then keep the following in mind:
- For an oven fire – turn off the heat, and close the oven door.
- For a stovetop fire – smother the fire by putting the lid over the pan and then turn off the heat.
Candle Safety Tips
- Blow out candles whenever you leave a room.
- Avoid using a candle in rooms where people are likely to fall asleep, such as the bedroom.
- Keep candles on sturdy surfaces that are unlikely to get bumped or knocked over.
- Keep candles away from anything that can catch on fire — decorations, mail, towels, or curtains.
Holiday Decoration Safety Tips
- Choose decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors and high-traffic areas.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, not both, so check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Tree-Specific Holiday Safety Tips
- Avoid picking and housing a dry tree as they are very flammable. Choose a tree with green needles that do not fall off when touched, and make sure to water the tree daily.
- Place the tree at least three feet away from heat sources such as radiators, heaters, and fireplaces.
- When decorating the tree, ensure there are no broken light bulbs or exposed wires, and always turn off the lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Never use candles to decorate the tree.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases yearly.
Two of the most common food safety issues to be aware of are consuming improperly packaged or prepared food and unknowingly consuming food that contains an allergen, resulting in food poisoning and allergic reactions. Food poisoning is typically caused by consuming undercooked meats, food that was left out for too long, and improper hygiene. Allergic reactions are more likely to occur when consuming unlabeled food (such as finger foods at parties) or eating food that was not prepared in an allergen-free space.
Food Preparation Safety Tips
- Wash your hands, surfaces, and utensils thoroughly before, during, and after preparing food.
- Keep raw meats and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods.
- Make sure to clean cutting boards after cutting raw meats before using them again.
- Use a thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to the correct temperature.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking.
- When hosting, do not have refrigerated food (like cheese and butter) out for extended periods of time.
Food Consumption Safety Tips
- If you have known allergies, do not eat unlabeled food. Instead, check with whoever prepared the food to confirm the ingredient list and environment in which the food was prepared.
- Do not eat food that has been left out but is usually refrigerated.
Every year, Americans’ alcohol consumption increases drastically during the holidays, making alcohol-related dangers all the more prevalent. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), intoxication results in impaired decision-making, and reduced stability, making injuries from fights, slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, and impaired driving all the more likely.
Alcohol-Related Safety Tips
- Do not let yourself or a loved one drink and drive. Driving while impaired is dangerous to the driver and others on the road.
- Eating and drinking water before and while consuming alcohol will help prevent over-consumption and reduce the effects of alcohol on your body.
- Before drinking, set a limit on how many drinks you are comfortable having within an hour, and avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly. Limiting and spacing out your drinks will help prevent over-consumption.
Toy & Gift Safety
Unsurprisingly, children are at the most risk of toy and gift injuries when opening, playing with or handling toys and gifts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported the following for 2020:
Toy-Related Emergency Department-Treated Injury Estimates by Age Group:
- 198,000 total injuries, or 60 injuries per 100,000.
- 149,200 injuries for children under 14, or 231 injuries per 100,000.
- 144,700 injuries for children under 12, or 279 injuries per 100,000.
- 78,500 injuries for children under four, or 407 injuries per 100,000.
Toy Categories Associated with the Largest Number of Estimated ED-Treated Injuries
for Different Age Groups:
- Nonmotorized Scooters – responsible for 21% of all injuries
- Toy Balls – responsible for 8% of all injuries
- Building Sets – responsible for 5% of all injuries
- Toy Vehicles – responsible for 5% of all injuries
Toy & Gift Safety Tips
- Inspect all toys and gifts for broken, sharp, or hazardous parts before purchasing and gifting them.
- Check toy and gift labels to ensure the toy is age-appropriate for the recipient.
- Continue to inspect toys and gifts while your child is using them to ensure that they have not become unsafe.
- Avoid toys and gifts that can easily be broken, crushed, or pulled apart.
- Avoid toys and gifts with small parts, especially for small children or babies, as they pose a serious choking hazard and safety risk.
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