The winter holidays – love them or not – are a time to celebrate. With celebration, however, often comes complacency. It’s a time of year when we are more prone to relax and let our guard down, all in the spirit of the season.
As wonderful as the holidays are, there is danger lurking behind some of the more common aspects of our celebrations. But there doesn’t have to be. With a little forethought, preparation and knowledge, the winter holidays can be safe and worry-free.
Keep the kids safe
This is the time to remind children of the family’s basic rules, such as not speaking with strangers. Here are a few safety reminders to keep in mind when shopping with young children:
- Select a meeting place in the event you become separated.
- Teach your children how to identify mall security personnel and how to ask for help. If they can’t find security, let them know they should seek help from a store clerk.
- Remind them to never leave the mall without a parent.
Safety at home includes hanging ornament, lights and other decorations out of the reach of little ones, keep the menorah out of reach and don’t forget that mistletoe and holly berries are toxic and dreidel and other game pieces are choking hazards.
Holiday shopping safety
Unfortunately, crime rates tick upward during the holidays. “We call it good cheer,” says News 3 Las Vegas. “Criminals call it complacency.”
Here are some tips to keep you out of harm’s way while shopping:
- If shopping late in the day, park in an area that will be well-lit after dark.
- Try not to shop alone. Thieves tend to target loners.
- Walk with a purpose, paying attention to what’s going on around you.
- Your car keys serve a number of safety purposes: carry them with the end of the keys pointing out to be used as a weapon. Sound the car’s alarm if anyone suspicious approaches you.
- Check the backseat and under the car before entering it.
- Don’t leave previous purchases, cell phones or other valuables on the seats, in plain sight. Lock everything of value in the trunk.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments respond to an average of 230 Christmas tree fires each year. These fires caused an average of 22 injuries, 6 deaths and more than $18 million in property damage.
A fresh tree is less likely to burn than a dried-out tree so water yours daily. Additional holiday tree safety tips include:
- Keep the tree at least three feet away from a fireplace and heat sources.
- Before putting lights on the tree, inspect each string for exposed wires, frayed wires and broken sockets. If you have pets that like to chew on wires, inspect the strands frequently throughout the season.
- If you need to use an extension cord, don’t overload it and don’t run it under a rug.
Candles also play a prominent role in our holiday celebrations, especially Hanukkah. The NFPA estimates that each year, candles are responsible for 11,640 home fires. Candle safety includes not leaving them unattended while they are burning. Additional tips include:
- Don’t use candles to decorate the tree or wreath. Use battery-operated candles instead.
- Keep candles away from curtains.
- Ensure that lit candles are out of the reach of children and pets.
Speaking of pets
The holidays bring with them some special dangers for your pets. The ASPCA offers additional pet safety tips to keep in mind during the holidays:
- Poinsettias, holly, pine needles and mistletoe are poisonous to pets.
- Tinsel, swallowed, means a trip to the emergency vet.
- Don’t allow the dog or cat to drink from the tree stand. It may contain fertilizers and bacteria.
- Secure the tree to ensure it doesn’t topple over when the kitty decides to take a hike up the trunk.
- Dogs love chocolate. Chocolate doesn’t love dogs. Place the chocolate coins in their foil wrapping and net bags out of Fido’s reach.
Keep these tips in mind and, before you know it, the holidays will be a happy memory, everyone will be safe and life will get back to normal.