Holiday Health & Safety Tips
For all of the good times families look forward to during the holidays, accidents and illness all too often spoil our idyllic plans with an unexpected trip to the ER. In fact, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for emergency rooms everywhere. With just a few preemptive precautions you can keep your family safer and healthier so you can make the most of your quality time together.
• Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel, small toys and even candy are potential choking hazards for small children. The general rule is if something is small enough to fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it’s too small for them to play with or have access to.
• Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, and Jerusalem cherry are just a few of the plants that are commonly used as decorations during the holidays. Because they are considered potentially poisonous, they should be kept out of reach of children. Symptoms of plant poisoning can include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Hotline: 1-800-222-1222.
• Keep breakable ornaments out of the reach of young children or off the tree until your kids are older. Be sure to clean up and discard broken or damaged ornaments quickly to keep them away from little hands.
• Keep your tree secured in a sturdy stand so it doesn’t get tipped over by kids or pets. Keep live or cut trees away from all heat sources such as electrical outlets, portable heaters and fireplaces. If you buy an artificial tree, be sure that it is labeled “fire-retardant.” Unplug all lights, both indoor and outdoor, before you go to bed.
• Common holiday foods such as nuts and popcorn are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under age 4.
• Alcohol poisoning is a common risk for children during the holidays. If you have hosted a party where alcohol was served, be sure to remove all empty and partially empty cups or glasses as soon as possible. The effects of even a small amount of alcohol is much greater for children than for adults, and can be dangerous. If you suspect your child has consumed an alcoholic drink, contact your doctor immediately.
• Cooking and the holidays just seem to go together. Keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove and always keep the oven door closed. To prevent accidents, watch your kids carefully while you bake or cook, or use a child safety gate to keep toddlers out of the kitchen when the stove is in use.
• Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety by washing hands, utensils, dishes and everything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish and raw eggs before and after use. Don’t contaminate a serving dish with raw meat. Keep foods at the appropriate serving temperature and store leftovers properly. For more about safe food-handling techniques visit FoodSafety.gov.
Prevent Holiday Colds and Flu
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.