The true holiday season is in full swing, with Hanukkah wrapping up and malls and stores abuzz with people continuing to hunt for gifts and seasonal delights to warm their homes.
With the Rye, Skirball, and Lilac (San Diego County) fires behind us, but the Creek and Thomas fires raging on, it’s all the more reason to take extra care this holiday season and beyond to ensure a safe and happy holiday.
1. Be Road Safe
The holiday season means lots of road travel for people going and coming from relatives’ houses, holiday parties, winter getaways, and even just shopping around buying gifts. Unfortunately, this time of year yields the highest fatality rates among any form of transportation. 2015 saw 355 vehicle-related deaths on New Year’s Day, 386 on Thanksgiving Day, and 273 on Christmas Day, according to the National Safety Council.
Following are reminders of basic road safety rules, but one relatively easy and useful way to avoid haste on your part is to allow yourself plenty of travel time to get to your destination. Feeling rushed or pressured for time can put us in an agitated state, leading to careless driving and road aggression. Traffic, road closures or detours, and other unexpected obstacles are additional variables that can make you more agitated and heighten your stress levels.
2. Protect Yourself and Your Home
Unfortunately, the season of giving for some is the season of stealing for others. If you’re going to be away from your home overnight or for some time, take some basic security precautions to protect yourself from vulnerabilities.
Having lights on timers or cars parked in the driveway are old hat, but can help deter potential thieves from scoping out your property. It helps to have a friend or neighbor you trust check in on your place and collect the mail and any packages to thwart temptation.
Social media can also present a window of opportunity for potential thieves. By posting about your getaway from home, you’re advertising your residence will be unattended for some time. RSVPs to events or parties also act as advertisements for when you’ll be away from home. Checking or changing your privacy settings can help lessen the risk, but it might be best to wait until you’re home to post about the good time you had on vacation.
3. Home Decor Dangers
Southern California has been on constant alert for fire danger for most of December, but no matter how fire alert-weary we may be, these reminders are worth the mention.
Home candle fires continue to be a considerable problem, especially during the winter months. Between 2011-2015, candle fires ranked second among the major causes in injuries per thousand fires, and one third in average loss per fire. The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s, and New Year’s Eve.
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces.
- Never leave candles unattended or burning if you’re sleepy or heading to bed.
- Burn candles away from trees, curtains, or other flammable items.
- Don’t use your fireplace to burn trees, wreaths, or wrapping paper.
- Chimney and fireplaces should be cleaned and checked at least once a year.
4. Child-Proof Your Home for Younger Visitors
Those of us who don’t usually have young children around the house should take special note if you’re hosting the holidays this season. Those youngsters can and will get into the most unexpected places, so take special precautions to make sure your home is child-proof for your family gatherings!
- Avoid Tip-Over Risks: Christmas trees or other tall, stand-alone decorations provide a potential safety hazard to little ones. Baby/safety gates are a good precaution to prevent them from wandering over and knocking things over.
- Keep Hanging Items out of Reach: This includes tablecloths, low-strung lights, and ornaments — the “most fun” things for a little one to grab, so be aware of how low these kinds of items are hanging to avoid temptation.
- Be Careful of Choking Hazards: You can count anything small enough to fit in a child’s mouth as a choking hazard. No matter how unappetizing or unreasonable an item may sound to us to stick in the mouth, logic and reason don’t necessarily win in the mind of a child. Be aware of loose items, figurines, pet toys, string, etc. before they can get a hold of it.
- Avoid Kitchen Hazards: The kitchen is full of dangers with sharp items, hot items, live flames, and more. It’s best to keep youngsters out of the kitchen while there’s cooking or baking going on. If you are planning a kid-friendly cooking activity, try to set it up away from the kitchen ‘danger zones’, or in a different room altogether and have an older youth or another adult in charge of tasks that involve heating elements.
- Corners: Coffee table corners and other sharp edges are often just the right height to cause injury if a small child isn’t looking or is unstable yet on their feet. Be sure to either move the furniture, add corner guards, or otherwise pad corners or sharp edges to prevent injury.
5. Pet Safety
As always, we want to keep our pet pals safe this holiday season!
For the most part, we all know the rules about chocolate and pets, i.e., absolutely no chocolate ever.
Of course, with extra activities and festivities around this time of year, there are more variables to consider as potential hazards to our pet pals.
Cats (and Dogs) & Christmas Trees
‘Cats vs. the Christmas tree’ is almost an annual ritual in itself for some pet owners. While fun and amusing for the most part, it can quickly turn into a disaster. Anchoring your tree can help prevent it from tipping over, which could cause injury to your pet or others. Additionally, if the tree tips over, some of the tree’s water may contain fertilizers or bacteria (if it’s been standing too long), which at the least can cause stomach upset, but possibly nausea or diarrhea, or worse.
Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly
Poinsettias have a long-established rap for being toxic to pets, which they are, to an extent. Mistletoe and holly are actually more worrisome, as they can result in cardiovascular problems as well as gastrointestinal upset. If your pet happens to ingest any of your decorative plants and seems to only express mild symptoms if any, it’s best to monitor and take them to the vet for an evaluation just to be on the safe side.
Tinsel & Other Wiring
Pets love to play with stringed things, and all of the tinsel and stringed lights seem just like more toys for them. Be sure to keep these items out of reach or securely fastened, as tinsel can become a serious digestive issue and electrical wiring can deliver a shock, or a punctured battery can cause oral or esophageal burns.
Keep these things in mind, use your common sense, and you’re set to enjoy your holiday season!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Rye Fire Incident Information.” CalFire. Retrieved 18 December 2017. http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents/incidentdetails/Index/1922
“Skirball Fire in LA 100% Contained.” Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 18 December 2017. https://www.dailynews.com/2017/12/15/skirball-fire-in-la-100-percent-contained/
“Lilac Fire That Destroyed 157 Structures in San Diego County is 100% Contained.” KTLA 5 News. Retrieved 18 December 2017. https://www.dailynews.com/2017/12/15/skirball-fire-in-la-100-percent-contained/
“Creek Fire May Not Be Fully Contained til December 23.” Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 18 December 2017. https://www.dailynews.com/2017/12/15/skirball-fire-in-la-100-percent-contained/
“California’s Thomas Fire 45% Contained.” National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 18 December 2017. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/18/571582097/californias-thomas-fire-45-percent-contained
“Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season.” National Safety Council (NSC). Retrieved 18 December 2017. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/18/571582097/californias-thomas-fire-45-percent-contained
“Season For Thieving: 6 Tips to Protect Your Home During the Holidays.” Realtor.com. Retrieved 20 December 2017. https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/protect-your-home-from-holiday-thefts/
“Home Candle Fires.” National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Retrieved 18 December 2017. http://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fire-statistics/Fire-causes/Candles
“4 Ways to Childproof Your Home for the Holidays.” Parenting.com. Retrieved 20 December 2017. http://www.parenting.com/article/4-ways-to-childproof-your-home-for-the-holidays
“Holiday Safety Tips.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Retrieved 20 December 2017. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/holiday-safety-tips
“Poinsettia.” Pet Poison Hotline. Retrieved 20 December 2017. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/poinsettia/