Staying Safe During the Holidays

Four ways to keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season

(RxWiki News) As the season continues, keeping yourself and your family safe is an important part of being able to enjoy the holidays.

Consider these four steps to keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season.

1) Practice Food Safety

It may be tempting to eat a piece of raw dough while you're making cookies, but doing so can make you sick. Eating raw dough is associated with exposure to bacteria like Salmonella and even harmful strains of E. coli. Other foods may cause problems. These include raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

Recommendation: Do not eat any raw food, including cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any raw dough or batter product that is intended to be cooked or baked. In addition, make sure to follow the cooking directions on the food label. Take steps to prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw dough, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Make sure to wash your hands and surfaces often. Be sure to cook all foods to their proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a range of resources to help guide consumers safely through the holiday season. You can "Ask Karen" food safety questions anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The app can be found under the name "FoodKeeper App."

2) Avoid Spreading Germs and Getting Sick

As the temperatures continue to drop, people spend more time indoors. The more people spend time indoors, the more likely germs are to be passed around. It is flu season and Covid-19 is still with us, as well as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is causing many children to become very ill.

Recommendation: To avoid getting sick and spreading germs to your loved ones, be sure to wash your hands and keep them clean. Wash your hands with soap and clean water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. And don't forget to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. You can also cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue handy. 

Currently no RSV vaccine is available, however the CDC strongly recommends you stay up to date with your COVID-19  and a yearly flu vaccines, including the new bivalent Covid-19 booster. 

Furthermore, the CDC recommends that along with staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, avoid large crowds if possible, and wear a high-quality mask or respirator to protect yourself and others while traveling, especially in busy holiday travel and transportation settings.

3) Keep Your Children Safe

It's the season of gift-giving. Keep your children safe by taking measures to prevent choking. Your children may receive gifts this holiday season that are not age-appropriate, which means they could pose a choking hazard.

Recommendation: Be sure to read toy labels to determine the appropriate age range and indicate whether the toy includes small parts that may be choking hazards. On the day kids open gifts, make sure to throw away all packaging and plastic wrapping immediately.

4) Holiday Decorating

What's more fun than decorating your house for the holidays? All the twinkling lights and candles, the festive tree, and the stockings hung by the fire can really set the mood. But they can also increase the risk of fire. 

Recommendation: If you decorate a tree during the holidays, choose a fresh one, with needles that are hard to pull from the branches. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources and be sure to keep the stand filled with water. If you buy an artificial tree, look for the statement specifying it is fire resistant.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using lights (both indoor and outdoor) that have been tested and labeled for safety, and to never use more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. When you go to bed or leave the house, be sure to turn off lights on trees and other decorations. 

Keep candles away from the tree and other decorations and wrapping paper. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.