It's that time of year for entertaining, being with friends and family, and celebrating the holidays. Whether you're hosting the festivities or attending a gathering, there are steps you can take to make the celebration as safe as possible.
If you're traveling to be with family and friends, be prepared for winter weather, especially if you're traveling north. Be sure that your tire tread is sufficient to maneuver in snowy or icy conditions and that they're inflated to the proper pressure. Top off your windshield wiper fluid and inspect your wiper blades. Keep an ice scraper, jumper cables, and cell phone charger in an easy-to-reach place in your vehicle. To save energy while you're away, turn down your home's hot water heater to its lowest temperature. And turn your heat down to 55 degrees. Keeping blinds and curtains closed will make your home more energy efficient.
If you're hosting a holiday celebration, be sure to prepare and handle food safely. Each year, foodborne diseases cause sickness in about one in six Americans, sending 128,000 of them to the hospital, and causing 3,000 deaths. Cleanliness is your first line of defense. Wash your hands often while handling and preparing food. Use a separate cutting board for raw meat and eggs than the one you use for vegetables and ready-to-eat foods. Be sure foods are cooked to the proper temperature and remain at that temperature. Perishable foods should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Keep the rooms in your home safe for your family and guests. If you have a live tree, be sure it's watered daily and that the lights are unplugged when not in use. If you enjoy a cozy fire, never leave it unattended. Keep all flammable materials away from fireplaces and monitor children's activity near any open flame, including candles. Check your smoke detectors and test that they're in proper working order.
If you have small children in your home, keep them safe from injury. Be sure all outlets are covered, and be mindful of objects that could be a choking hazard. This includes holiday decorations and hard candies. Keep candles, sharp objects like knives, alcohol, and other items that can be dangerous to small children up and out of reach.
Do your best to keep your body in shape over the holidays. Stress can put undue strain on your system. Be sure to keep hydrated, whether out gift shopping or at home entertaining. While hitting the gym may occur less often during the holidays, make a point to get some sort of exercise every day. Park farther from the mall entrance and take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
And be mindful of what you put into your body during holiday festivities. We're not telling to you give up the egg nog or pecan pie, but also include foods in your diet that will boost immunity. Include fresh fruit, especially berries, when you're craving a sweet treat. Limit your salt and sugar intake as best as possible. Yogurt includes loads of beneficial probiotics that help protect your digestive system.
The holidays are a joyous time to spend with friends and family. Keep the holidays safe by being well prepared when you travel, maintaining safe food handling practices, and treating your body well by making healthy food choices.