The holiday seasons are upon us and for millions of Americans this is a time to unite with friends and family to celebrate the season and ring in a new year. However, some of those celebrations will turn tragic with the holiday increase in accidents including car wrecks, home fires, and other issues. But there are ways to be pro-active in your approach to the holidays and think ahead before these accidents occur. Here are some tips on how to keep your family safe this holiday season.
Some really go all out when it comes to holiday decorations, rivaling even Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold in the film Christmas Vacation. However, unsafe decorations, especially Christmas lights, can pose a serious safety hazard. In order to prevent this, be sure to keep your small children (or small visitors) in mind when you decorate your Christmas tree.
If you have small children, any decorations that are glass or breakable should be kept out of reach on the top part of the tree. Keep unbreakable plastic ornaments down low and make sure they’re attached with plastic hangers or string instead of metal hooks. Also, if you are using a live tree, keep it watered regularly (especially if you have animals that may drink the water out of the holder and cause the tree to dry out quickly). A dry Christmas tree with hot lights is a serious fire hazard. To prevent fires, you should also inspect all of your lights to make sure that the cords are not worn or split. If they are, replace them immediately. Do the same if you notice that lights are blinking out because of an electrical short.
Finally, if you are using candles as part of your holiday decorations, keep in mind that they play a part in over half of all holiday fires. Be sure to follow basic safety tips with them: don’t leave them unattended while lit, don’t put them in windows where they might catch the curtains or drapes on fire, and don’t put them close to the tree or down low where kids may pull them off or hurt themselves. Whenever possible, be sure to use “battery-operated” candles that will not cause a fire.
For many of us, our pets are part of our families. So it’s important to keep them safe as well. Pets can get hurt by playing in the Christmas tree and knocking it down, causing you grief but also causing them injury. One way to prevent this is to keep the tree out of an area they can go or to put aluminum foil down at the base of the tree. (Many pets hate the feel and sound of stepping on foil and the noise can tip you off that something is about to happen.) In addition, you should keep all ornaments and tinsel above the animals’ reach as these can block your pet’s stomach and intestines and cause severe problems and even death. Finally, keep in mind that holiday plants like poinsettias are poisonous to animals if they eat them. So keep these out of their reach so that they can stay safe this holiday season.
Many Americans will not stay at home this year, but will hit the road to visit with their own friends and family. In order to stay safe this holiday on the roads, be sure to keep your car well maintained. Get a car inspection before you hit the roads and get your oil changed, the tires checked out, rotated, and balanced, and the brakes inspected to make sure that everything is in top-shape.
Also, get all of your fluids topped off including your wiper fluid, especially if you might be driving into inclement weather such as snow. Finally, the National Safety Council also recommends that you put together a safety survival kit in case your car breaks down in the snow and ice. This should include a compass, first aid kit, flashlight (with extra batteries), high energy foods such as canned nuts, dried fruit, and beef jerky, ice scraper (or canned de-icer), road flares or reflective triangles, windshield cleaner, and wooden matches. Finally, never, under any circumstances, should you operate a motor-vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Don’t let this holiday season be a tragedy for you and your loved ones. Take the time to plan ahead and be sure to stay safe as you get ready for a Happy New Year.