Safety officials recommend tips for avoiding holiday-related hazards

By DLA Public Affairs

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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 d├ęcor-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