Arnold AFB Safety provides tips in avoiding holiday hazards

  • Published
  • By Richard Fleming
  • AEDC Safety

The holidays are upon us. Fall and Thanksgiving decorations are quickly transitioning to winter and Christmas along with the holiday festivities and traditions we love. From gathering with family and friends to attending religious services, concerts and holiday programs, each of these festive activities can bring on additional travel, stress, shopping, cooking, cleaning and general physical exertion. Add in disrupted schedules, less sleep and no time to relax, and you have a formula for disaster.

But there is a way to make it unscathed into the new year by planning and using your head, along with the right tools and equipment. The National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following tried-and-true advice to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.


Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is in good running condition and prepared for any emergency. Don’t forget to get plenty of rest before driving long distances. It’s important to remember that hundreds of people die every year in crashes on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The following will ensure safe travels during the holidays.

•      Leave early and plan for heavy traffic.

•      Buckle up.

•      Put the cell phone away (most states are hands-free only).

•      Practice defensive driving.

•      Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impairment is involved in about a third of these fatalities.

•      Designate a sober driver. Alcohol and medications can cause impairment.

Decoration Safety

Decorations add so much and are one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries related to holiday decorating every season. When decorating, follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

•      Keep poisonous plants – mistletoe, holly berries, etc.  – away from children and pets.

•      If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant.”

•      If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk for better water absorption, water it regularly and remove it from your home when it is dry.

•      Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.

•      Do not to block doorways.

•      Avoid placing small or breakable ornaments on lower tree branches where children or pets can reach them.

•      Only use outdoor lights outdoors and choose the right ladder when hanging lights.

•      Replace light sets that have any damage.

•      Follow the package directions on light sets and other decorations.

•      Never nail, tack or put stress on wiring when hanging lights.                                             

•      Keep electrical connections off the ground away from puddles and snow.

•      Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.

Also, an increase in the amount of combustible and seasonal decorations can mean more risk for fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source. Take care with the following tips:

•      Place candles where they won’t be knocked down or blown over and are out of reach of children.

•      Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.

•      Use flameless candles near flammable objects.

•      Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended or when you are asleep.           

•      Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.

•      Always use a screen on the fireplace when a fire is burning.

•      Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year.

Food Safety

Keep your holidays happy by handling food safely. The website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides some valuable holiday food safety tips. 

•      Wash your hands frequently.

•      Keep raw meat away from fresh produce.

•      Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.

•      Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature.

•      Refrigerate leftover food within 2 hours of being served.

•      When storing turkey, cut the leftovers into small pieces so they will chill quickly.

Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for three to four days when properly refrigerated. Also be alert to the dangers of frying a turkey. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been hundreds of turkey fryer-related fires, burns or other injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage from these incidents.

Gift giving safety

Gifts and toys should inspire joy, not cause injuries. Thousands of children are seriously injured in toy-related incidents every year. Avoid safety hazards while gifting with these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

•      Toys are age-rated for safety, not for children’s intellect and physical ability, so be sure to choose toys in the correct age range.

•      For children under 3, choose toys that do not have small parts which could be choking hazards.

•      For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet.

•      Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets because both can be harmful or even fatal if swallowed.

•      When giving scooters and other riding toys, give the gift of appropriate safety gear, too. Helmets should be always worn, and they should be sized to fit.

Finally, as you go and decorate and eat and give, be sure safety has a place in what you do to celebrate a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas to all from Safety.