The holiday season is a time for relaxing and celebrating with family and friends. Unfortunately, the most wonderful time of the year can also prove hazardous to your health and safety. Here is a list of tips to avoid common holiday hazards.
On the Road
Shopping center parking lots are busier during the holidays. Keep an eye out for distracted pedestrians and drivers who may not be paying attention, especially when they’re backing vehicles out of parking spaces.
Remind teens to be extra alert during this holiday season when conditions are more challenging even for experienced drivers.
Make sure you’re not distracted while driving, especially by your cell phone. No text message or play list is worth the risk.
Remember to buckle up for every ride every time, whether it’s a long trip to visit family or around the block to the mall. When traveling in large groups, all riders need their own seat belt or car seat, even for short rides.
The car is packed, the kids are strapped in their properly-installed seats, and you’re on the open road. Nothing can stop you now, right? Wrong! That’s when you hear that all too familiar howl signifying “I want food!” or “Change my diaper!” When it happens, forget about making good time. Get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.
You never know when you’ll have to stop abruptly, so keep hot foods, large gifts, and anything that can become a projectile safely packed away in the trunk.
If you’re headed to a party and plan to indulge in some holiday cheer, designate a driver or use a car service to ensure you arrive home safely.
Curious kids will want to play with tree ornaments, so be prepared. Relocate breakable ornaments with metal hooks towards the top of the tree to make room at the bottom for ones that are safer around young children.
Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but when not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. Check your tree regularly to ensure it has plenty of water.
Lights are one of the best parts of holiday decorating. Inspect the lights on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, and broken sockets.
Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything flammable, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed.
Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place out of children’s reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters resembling toys.
Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep poisonous ones out of reach of children and pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry, and Jerusalem cherry. In an emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.
Use credit cards as opposed to debit. You’re protected from any liability due to fraud with both, however debit cards allow cybercriminals to empty your bank account after a data breach.
Storing your credit card information on your favorite shopping sites may seem appealing and convenient – no more scrambling for your card; no more entering all that information – especially with purchases on your mobile device, but it may not be safe. If a merchant isn’t clear about their policy, ask for details, and remember that you have the right to say “No.” In most cases, a merchant will ask if you’d like your information kept on file, however, some online merchants automatically store your info without asking. To be safe, after you’ve completed a purchase, log into your account and find the option to remove your payment information from their files.
Stay safe when you’re out and about. Avoid making any transactions over a public Wi-Fi network that doesn’t require a password. Hackers can set up a fake network with a similar name, and once you’re connected to it, they can hack into your files and steal your information. Ask for the exact name of a location’s Wi-Fi network before connecting.
Keep a close watch on credit and bank statements. Be vigilant about scanning your statements for unusual or unauthorized charges. If anything looks suspicious, call your financial institution right away.
Last but not least, don’t let stress dampen your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends, and neighbors, and reach out to others in the spirit of the season.
Lisa Alexander is a freelance writer