• January 22, 2020

CATES: Holiday safety - Odessa American: Health

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CATES: Holiday safety

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Posted: Monday, December 9, 2019 12:30 am

At home, I love the holiday season.  I love the lights and decorations, the meals and parties with friends and loved ones.

There is very little about the holidays on a personal front that I don’t look forward to every year.  At work, however, not so much. Unfortunately in hospitals, there is far too much sadness during the holidays. 

Many of those wonderful things we enjoy can also lead to illness, injury, and even death when people do not think about safety as they are traveling, decorating, cooking and even buying holiday gifts.  Please take some time to consider adding holiday safety to your holiday plans this year.

According to the National Safety Council, in 2017, because of motor vehicle crashes, 329 people died on New Year’s Day, 463 people died on Thanksgiving Day, and 299 people died on Christmas Day. 

Driving while under the influence was responsible for more than a third of those deaths.

The National Safety Council recommends these tips for staying safe on holiday roads:

  • Make sure your car is in good repair before leaving on a winter trip, and have emergency supplies with you in case you end up stranded on wintery roads. 
  • Avoid driving while drowsy, leave early and plan for heavy traffic. 
  • Make sure everyone in the car is in a seat belt or car seat as appropriate for their age and weight any time a car is moving — no matter the distance. Safe Kids Worldwide also stresses making sure car seats are installed properly, and that all kids under age 13 always ride in the back seat. 
  • Put your cell phone away and avoid driving distractions, practice defensive driving, and never drive or get into a car with someone who has been drinking or using other intoxicating substances (illegal or prescription). 
  • Put anything that could be dangerous if it moved or spilled with an abrupt stop in the trunk, for example: hot foods, large gifts, sharp items or glass. 

When you decorate, think about safety as well: Keep kids and pets away potentially poisonous plants — mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis are all toxic if eaten. 

If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant. If you are using a live tree, cut off about two inches from the trunk to expose fresh wood, keep it well watered, and remove it from your home when it becomes dry. 

Place trees at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources. Make sure decorations don’t block doorways. 

Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ornaments with small parts on the lower parts of the tree where small children might reach them. 

Use only indoor lights indoors, and outdoor lights outdoors, and make sure you are using the right ladder for the task of hanging lights. 

Replace lights that are cracked, frayed or have loose connections, and follow package directions on the maximum number of lights that can be plugged into one socket or in a row. Turn off lights and decorations when you got to bed or leave the house.

The National Safety Council also recommends you watch out for fire-starters: candles, matches and lighters all need to be kept out of reach of children, and kept away from places where they could be knocked over or near flammable objects, and never leave a candle lit while you are sleeping or away from home. 

Use fireplace screens on the fireplace when it is burning.  Do not burn wrapping paper, trees, or wreaths in the fireplace.

When you are cooking practice food safety in how you prepare, cook and store food. Keeping raw meat away from fresh produce, using separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked meats, cook meat to the proper temperature, and remember that refrigerated leftovers are good for about three to four days.  

If you want to keep those leftovers around longer, they need to be frozen. And don’t forget to wash your hands frequently when handling food. 

Remember safety when gift giving as well. Use age ratings on toys. Those ratings are not for intellect or physical ability, they are for safety. 

Consider choking risk when giving any toy to a child under age 3. Be very cautious with toys that have magnets or button batteries when small children are in the house. They can be swallowed and can cause serious harm to a child. 

When giving scooters or other riding gifts, consider adding safety gear, such as helmets and padding, into the package. 

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.

Odessa, TX

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