Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes. Take some basic precautions to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.
Even angel hair can hurt
Putting up decorations is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but can cause injuries in the home as well.
- "Angel hair," made from spun glass, can irritate your eyes and skin - always wear gloves or substitute non-flammable cotton.
- Spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled - follow directions carefully.
- Decorate the tree with your kids in mind - move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top.
- Always use the proper, supported stepladder - do not stand on chairs or other furniture.
- Lights are among the best parts of holiday decorating - make sure there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
- Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets - The New Zealand National Poisons Centre can be reached on 0800 764 766.
- Make sure paths are clear so no one trips over wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.
It is better to give... safely
When choosing toys for infants or small children it is important to avoid small parts that might become a choking hazard. Here are some additional gift-related safety tips:
- Select gifts for older adults that are not heavy or awkward to handle.
- Be aware of dangers associated with coin lithium batteries; of particular concern is the ingestion of button batteries.
- See which toys have been recalled.
- For answers to more of your holiday toy safety questions, check out www.consumerprotection.govt.nz.
Watch out for those fire-starters
Fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year cause thousands of deaths. Increased use of candles and BBQs, combined with an increase of decorations present a fire risk.
- Never leave a lit BBQ unattended.
- Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times.
- Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
- Keep candles out of reach of children.
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces.
- Do not burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items.
- Do not burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
- Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year.
Do not give the gift of food poisoning
Here are some food safety tips for the holidays:
- Do not rinse raw meat and poultry in warm / hot water before cooking – run the cold tap for a few seconds first.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature.
- Refrigerate food within two hours.
- Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
- When storing food, cut the leftovers in small pieces so they will chill quickly.
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food.
Traveling for the holidays - Be prepared
Our favourite transportation method during the holidays is to travel by car. It is also the transportation method with the highest fatlity rate.
- Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party.
- Remember - alcohol, over-the-counter or illegal drugs all cause impairment.
- Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled in, no matter how long or short the distance being travelled.
- Put that cell phone away - distracted driving causes one-quarter of all crashes.
- Properly maintain the vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
- Be prepared for heavy traffic.