a couple with holiday socks on in front of a fireplace

How to Celebrate the Holidays Safely

Winter holidays are just around the corner, and many people may be decorating their homes, making travel plans, buying gifts, or cooking elaborate meals. Whatever you do this holiday season, you need to keep safety in mind. Luckily, Anderson Traylor Edwards and the National Safety Council have some tips and tricks just for you.

Travel

During the holidays, many people travel by car. Whenever you are behind the wheel, exercise caution, and be aware that more people on the road means a higher risk of car accidents. Every time you drive, make sure you:

  • Know about vehicle recalls
  • Are up to date on all vehicle maintenance
  • Have an emergency preparedness kit in the car
  • Give yourself extra time and account for traffic
  • Get a good night’s sleep to avoid drowsy driving
  • Buckle your seatbelt and ensure your passengers are buckled
  • Avoid using your cell phone or falling prey to other distractions
  • Practice defensive driving
  • Have a designated driver if you plan on drinking or using drugs of any kind

Fatal crashes are all too common on major holidays, and about 1/3 of these accidents involve alcohol. Never get behind the wheel after drinking any amount of alcohol and remember that both illegal and prescription drugs can impair your driving, as well. Keep yourself safe by keeping an eye out for people who are driving unpredictably. If you see an impaired driver on the roadway, stay out of their way and call 911 when it is safe for you to do so.

Decorating

Few things feel more festive than keeping a Christmas tree in your home and putting up lights for the holidays. If you bring festive foliage inside, make sure you keep potentially poisonous plants, such as mistletoe, amaryllis, holly berries, and Jerusalem cherry, away from children and pets. You should also be aware that both live and artificial trees can catch fire. Check that artificial trees have a “fire resistant” label and keep live trees hydrated and at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources.

Before hanging holiday lights, confirm you are using indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors; always follow the instructions on the package. Do not use light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections – and avoid piercing wires while hanging your lights.

When your home is lit up, you can add ornaments, as well, but keep breakable decorations or those with small parts out of the reach of children. To avoid accidental fires, turn off your lights before you go to bed or leave your home.

Staying Cozy

Candles and toasty fireplaces can also start fires, so keep flames away from children and never keep a candle somewhere it can be knocked or blown over. Do not leave flames of any kind unattended and consider flameless alternatives, such as electric candles. If you’re using your fireplace to stay warm, practice yearly chimney cleaning and use a screen whenever a fire is burning. Avoid burning trees, wreaths, or wrapping paper in the fireplace – and always, always keep your tree far from the fire.

Gifts

You may have started shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but before you wrap presents, check that you are gifting safely. More than a quarter of a million children are seriously injured in toy-related incidents each year, so follow these tips to avoid accidents:

  • Choose toys in the correct age range
  • Avoid toys with small parts and choking hazards for children under 3
  • Do not give children under 10 toys that need to be plugged into an electrical outlet
  • Be careful about toys with button batteries or magnets (they are harmful if swallowed)
  • If you’re gifting a scooter or similar toy, make sure you provide a helmet and other safety gear, too
  • Make sure your gift is not included on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall list

Shopping online and from unfamiliar retailers can increase your risk of buying a dangerous or recalled gift. Read product reviews before you buy and visit the CPCS website for more Tips for Safe Gifts.

Cooking

House fires and food poisoning are the 2 biggest risks you face in the kitchen. Never leave cooking unattended, keep kids out of the kitchen, and handle food safely at all times. Wash your hands before handling food and frequently throughout food preparation. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat away from fresh produce and using separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats.

Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked properly before serving and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of serving. Holiday leftovers are safe for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator but should not be consumed afterward.

When to Seek Legal Help

Hopefully, your holidays go off without a hitch. If something goes wrong, however, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys at Anderson Traylor Edwards can help you through the aftermath of a car accident, for example, or hold the manufacturer accountable if you or your child is injured by a defective product or gift – or if you unwittingly prepare contaminated food.

The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration, and if everyone takes the correct level of care, they can be.

If someone acts negligently, instead, call us at (985) 244-3070 or contact us online to discuss your rights and legal options during a free, no-obligation consultation.

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