FORT BELVOIR, Virginia, Nov. 27, 2019 —
Traveling, decorating, cooking and giving are all part of the holiday season, and taking basic precautions will help keep family and friends safe and injury-free.
In 2017, 463 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 299 on Christmas Day and 329 on New Year’s Day, according to the National Safety Council. Alcohol was involved in about one-third of the fatalities. To stay safe on the roads:
- Prepare your car for winter and keep an emergency preparedness kit;
- Avoid driving drowsy;
- Ensure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up;
- Put the cell phone away;
- Practice defensive driving; and
- Designate a sober driver after holiday parties.
While decorating is a good way to get in the holiday spirit, thousands of people are seen in emergency rooms each year for décor-related injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends these steps:
- Place candles where they can’t be knocked down and out of children’s reach;
- Keep potentially poisonous plants like mistletoe, holly berries and amaryllis away from children;
- Use artificial trees that are fire resistant;
- If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption and remember to water it;
- Place the tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources;
- Avoid placing breakable ornaments or those with small parts on lower tree branches where children can reach them;
- Use indoor and outdoor lights in the appropriate locations and choose the right ladder for hanging them;
- Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections; and
- Turn off all lights and decorations when going to bed or leaving the house.
The National Safety Council also reported that more than a quarter of a million children were seriously injured in toy-related incidents in 2017. To avoid safety hazards:
- Choose toys in the correct age range;
- Choose toys for children under 3 that don’t have small parts, which could be choking hazards;
- For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet; and
- Include appropriate safety gear when giving scooters or other riding toys.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers these tips for safe food handling:
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food;
- Keep raw meat away from fresh produce;
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats;
- Use a thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature; and
- Refrigerate leftover food within two hours of being served.
More seasonal safety tips are available at www.nsc.org.