Healthy practices – regular hand washing, covering your coughs and sneezes with your upper sleeve, avoiding people who are sick, eating nutritious foods, drinking water and healthy liquids, and getting adequate sleep – are smart practices anytime, but particularly during the holidays.
On-the-road safety should always be top of mind. How can you be safe while driving? Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, put away your cell phone, and always fasten your seat belt. Observe speed limits and adjust to changing road conditions. Finally, make sure your car has been serviced and is ready for winter before the first flakes fly.
Lights make the environment (indoors and out) more beautiful this time of year. The following tips from the U.S. Department of Commerce will help ensure lights do not become a safety hazard:
- Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
- Unplug electrical decorations when no one is around. Electrical decorations should never be left on overnight at the office or at home. Turning off the decorations also conserves energy. Consider using LED lights, which are energy efficient and can save money.
- Only use UL listed electrical decorations. Check lights and extension cords for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Make necessary repairs before plugging in.
If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, provide appealing non-alcoholic beverages and a variety of healthy food choices. (Don’t forget to label foods or warn guests with gluten, dairy, nut and other allergies). If necessary, offer to drive anyone home who may have indulged in too much “holiday cheer” or, better yet, make sure everyone has a designated driver who abstains from alcohol. As host, it’s your responsibility to help your guests arrive safely home!
Don’t forget home safety precautions, including annual check ups on your home heating equipment and an annual chimney sweep. According to the Chimney Sweep News (SNEWS), “Needless tragedies occur each year when people are poisoned by carbon monoxide due to blocked or faulty lines…Proper chimney maintenance can help prevent people from the dangers of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Avoid accidental poisoning by keeping plants, alcohol, and cleaning supplies away from children and pets. The national Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222 and will redirect to your local center if dialed from a local number. To reach the Minnesota Poison Control System from an out-of-state cell phone number, call 612-873-3141.
You’ll be happy to have an emergency roadside kit in your car if the weather forces you off the road. AAA “encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit every season,” which they advise “should include a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.” We also suggest a shovel in case your stuck car exhaust pipe gets clogged with snow, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even death.
Read our other blogs for more safety tips. Wishing you safe and happy holidays!