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Declare War on Holiday Mishaps



Photo: Shutterstock

The holiday season burns bright with Christmas tree lights, Hanukkah menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, etc. Just make sure your house doesn’t burn along with them. As you enjoy the season, make sure to take precautions so that you can ring in a happy, healthy, and safe New Year.

Safe Travels

Drive carefully, as the holiday season has the highest auto fatality rate of any major form of transportation.

  • Don’t drink and drive. Always use a designated driver, and ensure your guests have a sober ride home.
  • Buckle up. Make sure every person in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt, no matter how short the drive.
  • Pay attention. Put that cellphone away while driving, and avoid other distractions such as eating, drinking, and radio station hopping.

Decorate with Care

Decking the halls is fun, but choose your adornments carefully.

  • Angel hair is the devil’s work. It’s made from spun glass and can irritate eyes and skin; if you must use it, wear gloves.
  • Let it snow (but in well-ventilated areas). Artificial snow can irritate the lungs if inhaled.
  • Watch product placement. Decorate the tree with kids and animals in mind; put breakable ornaments and those with sharp metal hooks toward the top.
  • Step carefully. Use a ladder, not a chair, to put that star on the top of the tree.
  • Hang lights with caution. Make sure lights have no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets, and don’t overload your electrical circuits.
  • Fry latkes, not tables. Make sure you keep an eye on the candles in the menorah; don’t ever leave them unattended while lit.
  • Watch out for fatal foliage. Keep plants that may be poisonous (including some poinsettias) out of reach of children and pets; the national Poison Control Center can be reached at 800-222-1222.
  • Avoid the scent of disaster; keep candle safety in mind. Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle; keep them out of reach of children; make sure they are on stable surfaces; and don’t burn them near trees, curtains, or any other flammable items.

’Tis Better to Give and Host—Safely!

Hand out the hospitality and presents with a healthy serving of caution.

  • Small kids need big toys. When choosing presents for small children, keep in mind the danger of small parts that can be choking hazards; pay attention to the age recommendations on toy packaging.
  • Watch out for assaults with batteries. Be aware of dangers associated with coin cell lithium batteries; aside from choking, there is further danger in the ingestion of button batteries, as the number of serious injuries and deaths from swallowing them has increased ninefold in the last decade.
  • Put away the prescription medicine. When guests come to visit, make sure all medications are put away and out of sight to avoid accidental ingestion by children and abuse of prescription opioids.
  • Don’t give the gift of salmonella. Be aware of food safety; for tips on keeping everyone at the table rather than in the bathroom (or hospital), visit food

From the Jefferson family to yours: Have a happy, healthy, safe holiday season!