It’s the most wonderful time of year again! Time to gather with your family and friends and share food, laughs, and precious memories that will hopefully last a lifetime. Though the holidays tend to be a beautiful and joyous time, they also present many hazards. In this post, we will discuss some of the most common holiday hazards and share ways to reduce your and your family’s risk of illness and injury.
Burns in the Kitchen
Cooking fires tend to be the most prevalent hazard during the holidays. With cooking fires, the chef (and chef’s little helpers) are at risk of burning themselves or even causing their home to catch fire. Experts say an average of 1,700 cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day each year. This number is significantly higher than the normal average on other days of the year.
Here are some tips on how to avoid burns in the kitchen:
- Never leave your stove unattended while cooking.
- Always keep the cooking handle away from the walkway or aisle of the kitchen. All handles should be pointed towards the side or back of the stove.
- Always keep flammable materials away from the stove.
- Create rules to keep your kids safe. Consider creating a no-play zone in the kitchen so kids don’t get too close to cooking surfaces. This will prevent distractions and potential accidents.
So many delicious foods that we routinely enjoy over Thanksgiving and Christmas can also be culprits for food poisoning. Food poisoning will put a damper on any celebration, but there are many steps you can take to keep yourself and your guests safe.
Ways to help prevent food poisoning include:
- Ensure your produce is well-washed prior to cooking.
- Do not wash meat. While washing meat used to be recommended to remove harmful bacteria, recent studies have shown that doing so is actually more likely to spread the germs you are trying to avoid.
- Sterilize cooking utensils and surfaces before and after use. This includes the counters your food is prepared on as well as the most important utensils of all – your hands.
- Know what temperature . Undercooked meat is a source of many great discomforts after eating. Make sure to invest in a thermometer and check the temperature of your meat before declaring that it is done. If you are unsure of the correct temperature, this should be indicated on the meat’s packaging.
Slips and falls on ice/snow
The CDC has reported that more than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year due winter slips and falls. It is important to prevent any accidents due to the outside environment as much as possible – especially since trips to the emergency room can be expensive.
- If you have a driveway or stairs outside of your home, utilize salt (sodium chloride) to help melt away any possible ice buildup. This is a good preventive measure to keep your walkway dry and not slippery.
- Wear shoes that have a good grip. This may include rubber soles. However, any shoes with slip-resistant soles are a good choice.
- Scan the area in front of you as you walk and take small steps.
- Keep your hands free whenever possible and be aware of your surroundings. If you do start to slip, it’s important that you have the use of your hands to find something to grab on to.
- If you do fall, try to avoid using your arms to catch yourself whenever possible. Land on your thigh or seat and roll out of the fall. These areas of your body are more load-bearing and are less likely to break under your weight in comparison to your arms.
Fire Hazards: Candles, Overloaded Electrical Circuits
Home fires happen incredibly frequently in this country, especially during the cooler fall and winter months. During winter holidays, the odds of a house fire increase drastically. Fires can occur from multiple sources, but there are many to prevent them.
- Invest in a smoke detector for every room of your house, and always make sure your smoke detectors are working correctly. Test them monthly, and replace the battery annually.
- Try to avoid using candles around your home. Candles are a common source for house fires and can easily be forgotten when lit. Flame-free (battery-operated) candles are a great alternative.
- If your home needs heat, try not to use your oven or stove appliances to heat your home.
- Turn off all portable heaters when leaving the room/the house or going to sleep.
- If you have strand lights on your home or Christmas tree, be sure not to plug too many strands into a single outlet. Purchase a power strip with a surge protector so that it shuts power off if the circuit is overloaded.
- Check all wires for powered decorations to ensure that they are not fraying or damaged. Damaged electrical wires are a fire hazard and should be discarded.
Illness (Colds, Flu, COVID)
Last but definitely not least, illnesses such as the cold, flu, and COVID are hazards that are rampant during the holiday season. On average, about 10% of the United States population becomes sick with the flu every holiday season. Do your part these upcoming months to best prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Here are some ways you can take action to help reduce your risk.
- Wash your hands whenever you get the chance: The spread of germs is well-prevented with the use of soap and water. Living in colder environments, this can be rough on your skin, so make sure to have some lotion nearby to moisturize your hands after cleansing them thoroughly.
- Get vaccinated: Being vaccinated against influenza as well as COVID is the best method for the prevention of illness. Vaccinations train the body’s immune system to better understand how to fight the real virus once presented.
- Stay Active: Research has shown that physical activity helps with immunity to common respiratory illness. Our immune system works very closely with our circulatory system, and movement helps the circulatory system work effectively. Find an indoor track or gym that can help you stay moving this fall and winter!
- Eat Healthy: Foods that contain vitamin C and vitamin E help keep your immune system strong. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables such berries, citrus fruits, melons, bell peppers and broccoli into your diet. Vitamin D is also a great supplement to a healthy immune system.
Remember the holidays are a wonderful time, however we want to stay as safe as possible. Make sure your home is ready for any potential hazards inside and out. We hope you and your family have a very safe start to your holiday season!