Being safe is always important during the winter holiday season, but perhaps more so than ever this year.
We’re dealing with the usual safety risks and the addition of COVID-19 that may be changing what our plans look like.
Being mindful of different risks that are possible during this time of year is important, and the following are ways you can keep your family and yourself safe this year.
Be Careful On the Roads
While there may be fewer people on the roadways this year than other years because of COVID-19, it’s still a dangerous time to drive.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December is the most dangerous time for drivers.
There are a lot of factors that play into this. One is the fact that more deliveries are being made, so there are more trucks on the road. People are also more likely to be taking long trips that could leave them fatigued, and there’s also a greater risk that people on the road are under the influence following holiday parties and gatherings.
You should never drive after having any alcohol, and if you’re going to be traveling, make sure you get plenty of rest beforehand.
COVID-19 and Holiday Celebrations
If you’re planning how to celebrate the holidays safely in the midst of COVID-19, then you should be aware of all local safety guidelines and rules where you live. There may be limits on in-person gatherings in your state or city.
Also, if you’re high-risk or you live with someone who is, be mindful of community spread as you’re making decisions as to how you’ll celebrate.
If at all possible, outdoor gatherings are considered the safest way to celebrate if you are going to see people. If you can’t be outdoors, opening your windows or doors can add ventilation, which may be helpful.
Shorter gatherings are considered safer than long ones, as are smaller events.
You might also want to avoid gathering with people who don’t follow similar safety measures to your own.
Wearing masks during events can be useful, although not entirely protective, as can ensuring everyone is following best practices for hand hygiene.
Be cognizant of sharing food as well. Use disposable utensils and plates if you can, and also disposable serving items that you can replace often.
Avoiding Food Poisoning
Along with the COVID risk during this holiday season, there are other potential infection risks to be aware of.
Food safety is a big issue during the holidays.
You should always use separate cutting boards and utensils for cooked and uncooked meat. Check everything with a food thermometer to ensure it’s properly cooked, and refrigerate leftovers within two hours after they’re served.
Holiday leftovers are good for three to four days after prepared, but only when they’re refrigerated properly.
The National Fire Protection Association says one-third of home decoration fires begin because of candles. Two out of every five decoration fires happen when decorations are placed too close to a source of heat.
Ways to reduce your risk of a fire during the holidays include:
- Put candles in a safe place where they can’t be knocked over.
- Keep all lighters and matches up high and away from children.
- Don’t burn things like wrapping paper or wreaths in your fireplace.
- Always use a screen on your fireplace when you have a fire going.
- Don’t leave anything with a flame unattended, including while you’re sleeping.
- Have your chimney and fireplace checked at least once a year.
- If you have a live tree, cut around two inches from the trunk to expose the fresh wood and help with water absorption.
- Your tree should be a minimum of three feet away from fireplaces and radiators
- Never block a doorway with a tree.
- If you have a light set that has a broken socket or bare wires, replace it.
- If you’re leaving your house, turn off all your decorations and lights.
Other Holiday Safety Tips
Some other general safety tips for the holidays include:
- Stay warm and especially watch your extremities. Wear light, warm layers and if any of your clothing or socks get wet, change them right away.
- Find healthy ways to deal with your stress and get support. The holidays can be mentally draining, especially this year.
- Always wear your seatbelt when driving and have your passengers do the same.
- If your doctor advises it, get any necessary seasonal vaccinations.
Finally, while the weather is cold, try and stay active and be mindful of the food you eat during this time. Staying healthy overall can help you deal with physical and mental stress.