Winter holidays present a rare chance to celebrate the magic of family, along with the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, they also bring with them increased risks to your health and safety. Staying vigilant against criminals and household risks are the best ways to keep the season special -- and safe.
Guard Your Health
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to keep you and your family safe from illness. As with most years, washing your hands frequently is key, as is staying away from people who are ill.
This year, be sure to wear a mask when in public, and think carefully before planning large family gatherings.
When it comes to those holiday meals, don’t let the rushed season prevent you from taking important food safety precautions. Wash produce before preparing it, and make sure to cook foods -- especially beef, poultry and seafood -- to the recommended temperature. Once the food is cooked, any leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours.
Of course, safe food prep also involves washing your hands and work surfaces frequently. If you don’t already have a stock of cutting boards, now’s a good time to pick some up. After all, you don’t want to be cutting your salad radishes on the same board you were separating raw chicken.
Foil the Criminals
Unfortunately, the holiday season presents a bonanza of opportunities for criminals. Here are a few tips to keep theft and violence from affecting your family this year:
- If you’ll be travelling, arrange to have the telltale signs of your absence erased, from overstuffed mailboxes to dark windows. Alerting your postal carrier and setting your lights on a timer are simple measures you can take. Your neighbors may also be willing to keep an eye on your property.
- Make sure your home and your car are locked up before you go to bed. Thieves know that valuable presents may be under the tree or in your vehicle’s trunk.
- When running errands, never leave your purse or car keys where they could be easily grabbed -- even if you’re “just running into the store for a second.” In addition, keep items you’ve just bought in a locked trunk.
- When shopping, keep your wallet close to your body. If possible, bring only cash or one credit card, rather than risking your entire identity from being stolen.
Practice Fire Safety
It’s natural to forget that festive decorations can create fire hazards if you don’t tend to them. Place trees at least three feet away from radiators and fireplaces. Make sure to water your tree every day, and to turn off all specialty lights before going to bed for the night.
LED “candles” are now readily available, and make better choices than real ones. That’s especially true if you have young children or pets in the house. If you do opt for real candles, never leave any burning unattended. Obviously, that also holds true for fireplaces. (These should also have sturdy barriers to prevent toddlers from getting burned.)
Avoid Other Holiday Hazards
‘Tis the season for all kinds of new and unfamiliar objects in your home, from new toys to indoor greenery. It’s important to make sure pets and small children don’t have access to toxic plants like mistletoe and holly. Keep choking hazards, like your older kids’ new games, away from toddlers. Put hazardous decorations above their reach.
During gatherings, keep in mind that platters of certain foods and beverages can be especially dangerous to inquisitive children, as well as to dogs and cats. Keep chocolate where pets can’t reach them. Obviously, alcoholic drinks should never be left on low surfaces.
As you move about the kitchen, keep basic safety measures in mind -- no matter how hectic the day gets. Pot handles on the stove should be turned inward so little hands can’t grab them. Whether you’re ironing napkins or using an electric griddle, don’t let cords trail on the floor where a hot appliance could be pulled down if a child or pet trips on it.
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