Safety officials recommend tips for avoiding holiday-related hazards

By DLA Public Affairs


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