Holiday safety check

The most wonderful time of year also can be the most dangerous time of year.

No matter your age or health status, everyone is at risk this holiday season to a long list of hazards. Not only are the outdoor elements dangerous, but the mental vulnerability that comes with this time of year can be just as detrimental. Throw a pandemic in the mix and you’ve got a recipe for caution. Here are a few things you can do to create a merry holiday season and take the necessary steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy:

Put your mental health first. Overextending yourself to friends and loved ones, spending too much money, worrying about travels, making dishes, missing loved ones around the table and more can add to the “holiday blues”. Know that if this season generally affects you, you are very much not alone; According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 64 percent of people say the holidays worsen their depression and anxiety. Set boundaries for yourself and keep things realistic.

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Limit screen time to avoid fear of missing out (FOMO), noticing elaborate gifts, and more via social media.
  • Consume less alcohol and sugar.
  • Simplify your gift giving by planning and sticking to a budget.
  • Start or follow through with an exercise routine.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss therapy options if you feel hopeless.

Fireproof your space. Bright festive lights, magical Christmas trees, garlands and ribbons, cozy wood-burning fireplaces each uniquely set the aesthetic appeal of a home ready for the holidays. However, keep anything involving heat and proximity top of mind:

  • Never decorate near a tree with candles and ensure any fireplace is not within flame distance from the tree.
  • Furthermore, artificial trees should be rated fire-retardant, and real trees should be watered every other day as to not dry them out and potentially become a fire hazard.
  • Turn of all lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Certain inks can emit toxic fumes when burned.

Gift consciously. Children can be especially excited to open presents, but that doesn’t mean the contents are appropriate for them to be handling. Keep knives for boxes out of reach of children and don’t allow them to open or play with presents that may be a choking hazard. At the end of your present opening festivities, collect and throw away all packaging and run through the area with a vacuum to ensure children don’t find residual pieces and choke on them.

Avoid falls and trips. Ice is bound to blanket roadways, sidewalks and driveways during the harsh winter months. Practice safe walking tips to avoid nasty falls outside. Spaces within and outside the home can become cluttered with the excessive holiday items and electrical décor usually is accompanied by extra wires and external battery packs; ensure these items are secured. When installing items, implement a buddy system so you have someone to spot you on ladders and make sure you’re staying centered on the rungs.

Drive safely. Between the weather and trying to get to festivities fast, motor vehicle accidents increase exponentially during the holidays. Follow these prevention steps to get to where you need safely:

  • Leave yourself time to arrive at your destination. Don’t speed on the road when it may be icy.
  • Determine your route and the weather combo in advance. Plan travels around the circumstances.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t use your cellphone while driving.
  • Buckle up. Your seatbelt could save your life.

No one plans for an emergency during the holidays, but they happen much too easily if we’re uncareful. The ticket to a merry and bright holiday is a healthy and safe one. If you find yourself in an emergency, however, be prepared to know where to go. Our emergency room is staffed 24/7; we’re ready and equipped to help you and your family at Osceola Regional Health Center.