The holidays are here, and with lighter COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC and travel bans lifted, celebrations will likely be in full swing this year. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, but make sure to keep safety in mind. Your Best Neighbors Ever want to make sure you are aware of all the potential dangers that threaten your celebrations and provide you with tips to prevent them.
Traveling During a Pandemic
Holiday travel is always a bit stressful, and this year may be especially difficult. After a year of people not seeing their friends and families for the holidays due to the pandemic, the desire to celebrate together is ever-present. International travel bans have been lifted for vaccinated individuals, signaling hope that the end of the pandemic is here. Unfortunately, it is not over yet.
If you’re planning to fly this holiday season, here are some important health and safety tips to keep in mind:
- First off, make sure to check current COVID-19 travel guidelines from the CDC.
- It will be hard to stay socially distanced while flying, so try to take flights with the fewest stops or layovers to minimize your risk of exposure.
- Whether vaccinated or not, always wear a face mask on flights and in airports.
- Be ready for changes to occur. Last-minute cancellations and delays are always likely at this time of year, but even more so this year due to the pandemic. Be prepared with a backup plan and, as frustrating as they are, don’t let these changes make you angry.
Many people may choose to drive to their holiday destination rather than fly. This option is much better for COVID safety, but has its own set of dangers to be aware of.
- Beware of inclement weather. Make sure to check weather forecasts ahead of your road trip. Serious weather may require that you hold off on the trip a day or two. If you’re already driving and the roads are wet and icy, DRIVE SLOWLY!
- If you’re traveling somewhere colder than Houston, prepare a cold weather kit to keep in the backseat of your car with the following items:
- Cell phone car charger & fully charged portable battery
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Dry food, water, and a fleece or mylar blanket
- Ice scraper
- Portable battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- First aid kit
- Avoid speeding. We understand that you have a long drive ahead and it just feels good to lay on the accelerator, but sticking to the speed limit can save your life. For the last twenty years, speeding has been the cause of about one-third of all vehicular accidents. When speeding, it is much easier to lose control of the car and cause a severe accident. Remember that you’re not the only person on the road, and if you hit another vehicle, you could be severely injuring yourself and others.
- Don’t text and drive. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid any screen distractions.
- Don’t drive while intoxicated. If you’re going to holiday parties, make sure to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Be prepared to use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, or coordinate a designated driver.
As mentioned above, the pandemic is not yet over. If you’re not yet fully vaccinated, consider doing so before attending any gatherings. Always wear a face mask when around people from outside of your household, and encourage others to do the same. Outdoor celebrations are best, but if you must gather indoors, make sure the space is well-ventilated by opening windows. It is also recommended that you put a fan facing outward in one of the windows to help push the air through.
COVID isn’t the only illness you may encounter this winter. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and keep your immune system healthy. Read our blog from last year about immune system health in the winter.
While COVID-19 is still a real concern this holiday season, it’s not the only hazard to be aware of. The winter weather makes us want to be warm and cozy inside with heaters, fireplaces, and candles setting the mood and temperature. Unfortunately, Christmas trees and other decor can ignite in a moment. Follow these simple tips for preventing fires in your home this winter:
- If you purchase a live Christmas tree, make sure it’s fresh with green, sturdy needles, and keep it watered. Alternatively, consider purchasing a fire-resistant artificial tree.
- Do not put your Christmas tree near the fireplace or other heat sources.
- Check all holiday lights for frayed or exposed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets.
- Keep candles on a stable surface, out of reach of pets and children, and away from the Christmas tree or other flammable items.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Space heaters should be kept 3 feet away from anything flammable, including people. Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off feature so that it will turn itself off if it tips over.
- Turn off all holiday lights and heaters before going to bed or leaving the house. Do not leave any lit candles or fireplaces unattended.
Many ER visits during the holidays are consequences of accidents while decorating. Using ladders, hammers, and other tools to hang decor presents hazards that should be taken seriously. Follow these tips to avoid accidents while decorating:
- If decorating outside, make sure to avoid overhead power lines.
- If using a ladder, make sure it is sturdy on the ground before stepping up.
- For powered lights and other decor, place cords in areas where they won’t be walked on or tripped on. If they must cross a high-traffic walkway, use gaffers tape to keep the cables secured to the ground.
- Make sure that any sharp, breakable, or small decorations are kept high enough for children not to reach them.
Toys and Other Choking Hazards
As stated in our blog, Top Choking Hazards for Kids, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5. With all the excitement of the season, it can be easy to let yourself be distracted, but make sure to always keep a close eye on what your children are doing. In addition to food, some toys and decorations can present choking hazards. Here are some tips for preventing choking this season:
- Make sure that any toy your child receives is age-appropriate, and don’t let them play with toys that are not.
- Be cautious of toys that require small batteries or tiny magnets.
- Any decorations that are small enough to swallow should be kept out of reach of children.
- Cut down any foods your child eats that can potentially be dangerous. Even small foods such as grapes and blueberries should be cut in half or quarters for small children.
What to do in an emergency?
Emergencies don’t take a holiday and neither do we. Neighbors Emergency Centers are open 24/7/365, even during the holidays. We hope we won’t see you, but should you need us we’re located right down the road. Happy Holidays!