The holiday season is upon us, and while loved ones gather to celebrate and be thankful, there are many safety concerns to consider around the home and kitchen. Holiday safety concerns are most prevalent beginning in late November and span until mid-January. To help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season, we have put together a list of safety tips that cover home and kitchen safety, travel, and even how to stay calm in stressful situations to make sure everyone has a safe and happy holiday.
Did you know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that there have been 168 turkey-fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002? If you are going to fry your Thanksgiving turkey this year, follow these vital safety precautions:
- Set up your fryer outside (more than 10ft away from the house) and keep children away at all times
- Ensure that the fryer is set up on flat ground
- Your turkey must be thawed and dry before you fry it! Any moisture on the bird will cause the oil to dangerously bubble and may spill over the sides and top of the fryer
- If you are going to touch the fryer lid or handle, you must be wearing gloves or oven mitts, as the surfaces can get extremely hot
- Have a fire extinguisher placed outside in case of an emergency
Keep the Fires in the Fireplace
During the holiday, we tend to light candles and fireplaces more often to stay warm and to add a cozy aesthetic to the home. Combine those open flames with a house full of combustible decorations, and you’ve got yourself a fire hazard. Follow these tips to keep the fires in your home controlled and safe:
- Do not leave burning candles unattended
- Do not sleep in a room with a burning candle
- Keep candles out of reach of children
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
- Keep lit candles far away from trees, curtains, decorations. or any other flammable items
- Do not dispose of trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
- Inspect and clean the chimney and fireplace at least once a year
Decking the Halls
Decorating the home both inside and out is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. Are you decorating safely?
- Follow directions carefully when spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, as these sprays can irritate your lungs if inhaled
- When decorating your Christmas tree, move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
- When hanging lights or decorations inside or out, always use a step ladder. You should not stand on chairs or other furniture
- Ensure that there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets on strings of lights
- If you are going to display Poinsettias, keep them out of reach of children and pets as they can be hazardous to their health if ingested
Traveling for the holiday season? Whether you are flying, driving, or taking a train, don’t let the hectic travel season keep you from practicing safe habits.
- During a road trip, make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up
- Be prepared for heavy traffic, and remain alert at all times
- Create a packing list of all IDs, tickets, medications and special items that you and your family will need
- Ensure that your whole party stays together when traveling through a crowded airport
- Give a family member or friend your travel itinerary and proper contact information in case of an emergency
- Try to pack only what you need to keep your suitcases from being too heavy
Food Poisoning is Not a Stocking Stuffer
Food is one of the central themes of any holiday get-together. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a great list holiday food safety tips. Here are a few:
- Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature
- Refrigerate food within two hours
- Holiday leftovers are safe for four days in the refrigerator
- Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating
- When storing turkey, be sure to cut the leftovers in small pieces so it will chill quicker
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food
Bullying Doesn’t Take a Holiday
The holiday season is a time for family and friends to celebrate, be thankful, and relax – but bullying (unfortunately) does not take a holiday or vacation. As a parent, it is important to remember that no child is immune to harassment or bullying, whether it is online or off. If you notice a change in behavior, like your child not enjoying cheerful family gatherings, they may be experiencing the effects of bullying or harassment.
It is important to keep an open line of communication with your children and teens to help keep them safe. If you child confides in you that they are experiencing any type of bullying, there are some things to keep in mind. Author and parent advocate Sue Scheff has put together some tips for handling the situation:
- Tell your child to never engage with the bully or the person that is harassing them
- Remind your child to never have any of their friends retaliate in their defense
- Save, copy, and/or print out any evidence of bullying
- If the incident occurs online, block and report the person on social media site you are using
- Encourage them to continue to tell you or another trusted adult if the issue persists
Avoiding Stress During the Holidays
There’s no doubt about it – the holidays can be a stressful time, even in the most loving of families. From hosting holiday parties, to spending all day in the kitchen cooking meals, to shopping for presents in your free time, there are many factors that can make the most wonderful time of the year overwhelming, and that can put some children in danger of abuse. We’ve collected a few resources for you to turn to in times of stress to help make your holidays go a little easier.
- American Psychological Association Help Center
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: Defines Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); identifies symptoms, causes, and treatment of SAD.
- Making the Most of the Holiday Season: Provides tips and strategies for managing holiday stress that is primarily due to economic stressors.
- Tips for Parents on Managing Holiday Stress: Offers tips for dealing with stress due to family financial difficulties.
- Stress, Depression, and the Holidays: Tips for Coping: Offers practical tips for preventing stress and depression during the holiday season.
- 5 Practical Tips to Deal with Holiday Stress: The RELAX Paradigm – The mnemonic RELAX describes an approach to dealing with holiday stress.
From all of us at MBF, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy and safe holiday season!