Although accidents and injuries can happen any time of year, the holidays bring many activities that can increase the risk. Be prepared and take extra precautions. By becoming more aware of the safety concerns of the season, you will be in a better position to protect yourself and your family.

Be Aware of Fire Hazards

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), winter is the most common time for residential fires. This may be due to the increased use of candles, Christmas lights, fireplaces, stoves, and grills. To stay safe:

  • Don't leave lit fireplaces, candles, stoves, or grills unattended.
  • Make sure candles are kept away from curtains and trees — as well as from children and pets.
  • Never use gasoline-burning or charcoal-burning devices, like grills or generators, inside your house or garage.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with both a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector — and remember to test them monthly and replace batteries two times per year.

Stay Injury-Free

It's possible to injure yourself while hanging up lights or stretching to reach high places. The CDC recommends using a step stool instead of standing on furniture when hanging decorations inside or outside your home. Keep special watch of the kids as well, since children have a higher risk for serious injuries. Keep holiday clutter away from young children, and be sure that toys, foods, and other potential choking hazards are not left near kids.

Take Precautions with Food

As you rush to prepare holiday meals, don't give food safety the short shrift. Taking the time to handle and prepare food safely can help protect your family from food-related illness:

  • Clean your kitchen, including all cooking surfaces, thoroughly with hot, soapy water before you begin. You should also wash your hands, utensils, and any cooking tools you will be using.
  • Keep raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs away from eating surfaces, and from foods that are ready to eat.
  • Check cooking directions and use a food thermometer to ensure that you cook all foods to the proper temperature.
  • Don't leave out perishable foods for over two hours — refrigerate them promptly.

Drive Safely

With holiday parties and functions to attend, rates for drinking and driving may increase over the holidays — especially on New Year's Eve. If you plan to drink, make sure you have a ride home. If you are driving, then choose not to drink and take extra caution on the roads. Wear your seatbelt whenever you drive, and be sure that your child is buckled in a proper safety seat or booster seat.

Keep Stress in Check

Though the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, they can also be stressful if you take on too much. Don't over-commit to social engagements during the holidays, and keep an eye on your spending. Aim to eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep, so that you'll stay energized. Don't forget to call on family and friends if you need support to help you maintain a positive outlook.

HealthAhead Hint: Pay Attention, Stay Safe

The holidays are a special time to celebrate — but there are still potential hazards that threaten to spoil the season. Fortunately, most household accidents can be avoided through taking extra precautions. By being aware of the risks of the season, you can take steps to make your home safer. Stay alert and take the necessary precautions for you and your family this year. You'll be giving your loved ones the best gift of all: Safety and continued health.