Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, the time when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes. By taking some basic precautions, you can ensure your whole family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.
Watch Out for those Fire-starters
While many subscribe to the theory any fried food is good – even if it’s not necessarily good for you – there is reason to be on alert if you’re thinking of celebrating the holidays by frying a turkey.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 168 turkey-fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002. CPSC says 672 people have been injured and $8 million in property damage losseshave resulted from these incidents.
NSC discourages the use of turkey fryers at home and urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments or consider a new oil-less turkey fryer. But for those who don’t heed that advice, please follow these precautions:
- Set up the fryer more than 10 feet from the house and keep children away
- Find flat ground; the oil must be even and steady to ensure safety
- Use a thawed and dry turkey; any water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over (see video at right)
- Fryer lid and handle can become very hot and cause burns
- Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times
About 2,200 deaths were caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries in 2013, according to Injury Facts 2015, and 12% of home candle fires occur in December, the National Fire Protection Association reports. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire.
- Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
- Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
Even Angel Hair can Hurt
Putting up decorations is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, however an estimated 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating were seen in emergency rooms during the 2012 season.
- “Angel hair” is made from spun glass, and it can irritate your eyes and skin; always wear gloves when handling it, or substitute non-flammable cotton
- When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully; these sprays can irritate your lungs if inhaled
- Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
- Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture
- Lights are among the best parts of holiday decorating; make sure there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets
- Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets; the national Poison Control Centercan be reached at (800) 222-1222
- Make sure paths are clear indoors so older adults do not trip on wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.; NSC provides tips for older adults on slip, trip and fall protections
Traveling for the Holidays? Be Prepared
Many people choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. In 2013, 343 people died on New Year’s Day, 360 on Thanksgiving Day and 88 on Christmas Day, according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals.
- Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol, over-the-counter or illegal drugs all cause impairment
- Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled upno matter how long or short the distance being traveled
- Put that cell phone away; distracted driving causes one-quarter of all crashes
- Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained, and keep an emergency kit with you
- Be prepared for heavy traffic, and possibly heavy snow
Remember, when guests are staying in your home, make sure areas have night lights or easy-to-reach lamps in case they need to get up during the night. Keep all medications up and away and out of sight from young children.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides some holiday food safety tips. Here are a few:
- Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature
- Refrigerate food within two hours
- Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for four days in the refrigerator
- Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating
- When storing turkey, be sure to cut the leftovers in small pieces so it will chill quicker
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food