The holidays are upon us, which is usually a time for merriment. Although Christmastime this year will no doubt look a lot different, thanks to the pandemic, there’s still plenty to celebrate.
Most of us will be staying home this year in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That means that our nation’s roads may be a lot safer, which may bring some relief. While more than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents during 2012, fewer cars on the road may also mean fewer collisions — especially around the holidays, which are normally marked with an increase in traffic and additional dangers like inclement weather and intoxicated drivers.
However, that doesn’t mean that staying home is inherently free of hazards. In fact, wintertime can create some potentially scary situations for us. And as Christmas is just days away, it’s important to take note of these household hazards in order to stay safe during the holidays. Although 27.5 million people lacked health insurance in 2018, even those with insurance will want to avoid injuries and other harms whenever possible. Let’s take a closer look at these home-based hazards you should take care to prevent this holiday.
When temperatures start to drop, we begin to rely on supplemental help to keep our homes warm and cozy. Although furances are designed to last for 15 to 20 years, we may use space heaters or electric blankets to keep comfortable. Unfortunately, these items do come with safety risks. Make sure to never use these products if they are in poor condition — and if you do use them, never leave them unattended. Be sure to turn them off before going to bed and invest in products that have an automatic shut-off feature. You should also have your chimney cleaned before you hang up your stockings. If you plan on having a fire in the fireplace this Christmas, you must remove all that buildup in the chimney to prevent the chance of a fire from breaking out. If you’re using candles, keep them out of reach for children and pets and blow them out when you leave the room. Never put lit candles on your Christmas tree, no matter how enchanting it may look.
If you live in an area that’s prone to freezing temperatures, you’ll want to protect your plumbing this holiday season. Be sure to keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees, particularly at night. You may also want to consider insulating certain pipes or filling in holes or cracks in the walls to keep the warm air inside. It may be advisable to leave a faucet dripping overnight to prevent frozen pipes. But if your pipes do freeze, you’ll want to warm them correctly and call a professional plumber.
Foodborne Illness and Poisoning
Even if you’re making all of your food for the holidays at home, you still need to watch out for potential disease. Food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness) can occur when meats aren’t cooked to the correct temperature, when food is stored improperly, or when people fail to practice proper hygiene in the kitchen. Make sure that anyone who is preparing or storing food knows the rules to follow to keep everyone safe. You’ll also want to watch out for poisonous foods or flowers if you have pets around. Plants like poinsettias are toxic to cats, while your animals should never be fed nuts, raisins, or turkey bones. It’s best to keep your pets sequestered during the holiday meal to ensure no one slips up — and if you receive any toxic plants as a gift, keep them in a place you know your pets won’t be able to reach.
Staying home this holiday is a good way to stay safe. But remember that you still need to be vigilant about preventing household hazards. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll prevent dangerous situations at a time that should be filled only with good cheer.