Holiday Safety Basics
According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, falls involving holiday decorations account for about 5,800 emergency room (ER) visits every year. And injuries involving extension cords account for about 4,000 ER visits a year. The holiday season is full of distractions, stressors and tasks that increase our exposure to hazards. Here are some reminders to help you stay safe during the holidays.
Keep holiday decorations, wires and other dangers away from children and pets
Are you a new parent or grandparent? Crawling or newly walking toddlers have a floor-level perspective. Keep fragile ornaments and accumulated wires for lights and decorations out of their reach. If you have a tree, keep it on a stable stand to prevent it from falling over if your child decides to use it as a pull-up bar.
You also have to watch out for pets. Cats love to climb trees, dogs love to water trees and both may drink from the base of a live tree. Getting tangled in lights or decorations, eating tinsel or ingesting tree needles or aspirin-laced tree water are all potentially fatal to your pet. Having pets around trees can also create other fire and electrical hazards.
Cases of pet and child poisoning increase during the holidays. Holly berries, poinsettia leaves and other plants can be toxic if ingested. Visiting family or friends can increase poison risks, too. Children love to explore new or unfamiliar places. Prescription medications and cleaning products stored under sinks are culprits every year.
Avoid electrical and fire hazards
The most common cause of holiday fires is overloaded electrical circuits. Stringing too many light sets together or using power strips plugged into other power strips can cause electrical overheating. Unattended candles and fireplaces without screens are other common fire hazards.
Follow food safety guidelines
Failing to cook food thoroughly is one cause of food poisoning. But another is leaving it out all day for grazing. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours. At room temperature, food can grow bacteria, leading to food poisoning and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Supervise children with new toys
New toys can create new hazards if you’re not careful. Parents have been seen in emergency departments for puncture wounds from stepping on and embedding hard plastic parts into the bottoms of their feet. Batteries are hazardous as well. People have been killed testing 9-volt batteries with their tongues!
Monitor your alcohol intake during the holidays. Many celebrations and parties involve alcohol. If you are hosting a holiday party, remember that you are liable for guests who drink and drive. Families are devastated every holiday season by drunk drivers. Unattended or unrestricted alcohol access can also result in alcohol poisoning in kids.
Practice defensive driving
Whether by road, air, rail or water, holiday travel can be stressful and hazardous. Fatigue, road rage, congestion, construction and getting lost can all cause vehicle accidents that end in fatalities.
While holiday activities do bring more hazards, you can enjoy the festivities without incident if you take a few simple safety measures.