Ditch Decorating Disasters
Whether indoors or out, standing on a ladder to hang decorations can be a dangerous task. Be sure to place the ladder on secure ground, at a distance of one foot away from the wall that supports it for every four feet in ladder height. Always have someone hold the bottom of the ladder for added stability.
Related: 8 Tips for Hanging Holiday Lights
Avoid Christmas Tree Fires
There are a few easy ways to prevent your tree from going up in flames. Begin by choosing one that is still fresh, and water it daily to keep it from drying out. Use high-quality, flame-retardant string lights, and check to make sure that the cord and plug are in good condition and without any fraying wires or cracks. Position your tree a safe distance away from heat sources, such as fireplaces or radiators. And don’t forget to test your smoke detector—which you should be doing regularly anyway!
Prevent Food Poisoning
The holidays bring feasts of turkey and ham; delicious sides; and rich desserts. But when prepared and stored improperly, these foods can make you sick. Cut down on the risk of foodborne illness by disinfecting your kitchen countertops before you begin your dinner preparations. When transporting or preparing dishes, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until dinner. Put any leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of serving, and transfer the remnants from opened cans of pumpkin, cranberry sauce, vegetables, or other holiday staples to food-safe glass or plastic storage containers. If you’ve handled raw meat, wash your hands immediately and place all contaminated utensils and non-wood cutting boards in the dishwasher.
Don't Take a Tumble
Icy or wet outdoor stairs are one of the most dangerous winter hazards. Avoid serious injury by adding a slip-resistant tread to the surface of each stair for more traction. Be diligent about salting the stairs whenever there is snow or freezing rain, and provide plenty of light at night so your guests can see where they are stepping.
Related: Buyer’s Guide—The Best Snow Blowers
Prevent a Car Catastrophe
Statistics show that the average number of fatal automobile accidents rises during the holidays as a result of both inclement weather and drunk driving. Avoid getting on the road altogether when possible—take advantage of public transportation if it’s available, or stay the night at Grandma’s house after Christmas dinner. If you must use your car, stay sober or designate a driver and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles during snowstorms.
Avoid Poisonous Plants
Poinsettias are widely believed to be poisonous to children and pets. That's only partly true; poinsettia leaves can cause discomfort and indigestion when consumed, but that's when eaten in large quantities. Mistletoe and holly are far more toxic and should be placed up high on a shelf or countertop where pets and children cannot reach them. To play it completely safe, opt for artificial versions of these seasonal mainstays instead of the real deal. If anyone accidentally consumes either mistletoe or holly, a call to poison control is in order.
Open Packaging Carefully
Believe it or not, opening gifts can be one of the most hazardous activities of the holiday season. Try to avoid recklessly stabbing, prying, or slicing through that stubborn clamshell packaging that seems virtually impossible to open. Instead, take your time opening each gift, and use the right tools for the job. A sharp pair of scissors pointed away from your body should do the trick as they will require less pressure than a dull pair, thereby reducing the chance of slippage.
Pay Attention to Food and Drinks
Forgotten food and wine can pose a risk for pets: Many foods, including chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins, can cause serious distress in dogs and cats. Similarly, a curious child might pick up an unattended glass of wine, so be sure to keep all alcoholic beverages out of the hands of little ones by dumping out unfinished drinks and keeping fresh ones beyond reach.
When guests come to visit, particularly youngsters and company of the four-legged variety, move prescription medications to a spot that is inaccessible to children and pets. Purses and bags can also pose a risk, as many of us tote around pills, nail clippers, or sharp nail files. To prevent little hands from getting into trouble, provide hooks for visitors to hang their bags far out of reach.
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