5 Tips To Help Keep The Holidays The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From decorating for the holidays and visiting family to preparing feasts and enjoying activities in the snow, this time of year provides seemingly unending choices for fun, family and fellowship. Unfortunately, the busyness and merriment of this time of year also means the potential for snowmanincreased injury from a variety of sources.

Let’s take a look at 5 main areas injuries often take place during the holidays as well as tips for keeping the season safe and joy-filled.

  1. Toys

Safety in play during the holidays begins with making sure toys are appropriate for a child’s age and ability as well as providing appropriate supervision. Start by checking age ranges on toys before purchasing. With younger kids, also be aware of the packaging for toys, making sure potential eye hazards are removed. Special care also needs taken with flying and projectile toys, including chemistry sets, airsoft and BB guns and rockets. Supervise older kids using projectile toys, and make sure they follow directions and wear goggles when operating these toys. Also remember to keep younger children and other spectators at a safe distance.

For more information on keeping kids safe during sports and play, check out these helpful articles: Airsoft Safety, Part 1 and Part 2 and The Top 5 Most Unlikely Holiday Safety Risks.

  1. Decorations

Most homes are filled with festive decorations this time of year. Be sure to check that breakable ornaments are out of the reach of young children and make sure branches on Christmas trees aren’t sticking out at a child’s eye-level. Other decorations posing potential injury threat include fireplaces, candles and electrical cords. Use common sense with each of these, making sure they won’t cause someone to trip and that they are safely avoidable. Another potential hazardous decoration is spray snow because the chemicals can easily harm eyes. Use caution when applying making sure to wear safety goggles when doing so.

  1. Food

For some, holiday food is the best part of the holiday season. And other than the extra calories, many don’t consider the potential safety hazard accompanying all that extra food. To begin, be aware of the safe handling and cooking processes needed for the food you’re preparing. From food allergies to food poisoning, being aware of the potential health hazards can help make sure everyone enjoys the festivities. Food safety also involves making sure an active kitchen is always supervised and that smoke alarms are in working order. Finally, keep children away from hot surfaces, and encourage everyone to wash hands frequently.

  1. Snow

If you live in or are traveling to an area with the potential for a white Christmas, you’re probably looking forward to sledding and snowball fights and possibly snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding. If your holiday plans include these or other outdoor snow-related activities, make sure everyone’s gear includes sunglasses or goggles to protect eyes both from impact and from the sun. Also, keep in mind that the possibility for sunburn still exists in cold weather, and that its potential significantly increases with altitude. In addition to protecting eyes, protect the rest of your body by staying dry and dressing warmly with layers.

Check out these great articles related to safety in the snow: Links to articles on Cold Weather Safety, Great Goggles Make Snowmobiling Even More Enjoyable, and An Expert’s Guide to Skiing Sunglasses Lens Tints.

  1. Travel

Most people travel at least some over the holidays with many traveling significant distances. Keep in mind that weather makes road conditions vary significantly from one location to the next as well as at different times of day. Plus, there are the vision challenges often accompanying long drives. Vision can become blurry from fatigue, sunlight reflecting off snow makes seeing anything difficult, and just general fatigue can wreak havoc on anyone’s alertness. Tips for safe holiday travel include wearing the proper eyewear for the time of day, including always sunglasses during the day. Other options for reducing the chance of accidents caused by fatigue include resting frequently, keeping the car cool and sharing the driving. And tips on travel safety during the holidays would be incomplete without encouraging that a designated driver be chosen prior to indulging in any holiday drinking.

For more on the challenges of night driving, check out Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1 and Part 2.

Following the simple tips above can help ensure this holiday season stays the most wonderful time of year.

Cold Weather Safety

chainsaw winterWith the onset of colder weather in many areas comes the need to consider the safety of those whose jobs (construction workers, for example) expose them to cold environments on a regular and/or prolonged basis. In addition to those who work in cold environments, those who play (snow sports, for example) in such environments would do well to consider aspects of safety too.

When considering cold weather safety, understanding the factors, danger signs, preventative measures and emergency situations can prove immensely helpful in keeping individuals who are exposed safe and healthy.

Factors

When exposed to cold environments, realize that factors such as the actual temperature, presence of winds and humidity in addition to contact with cold water or surfaces all play a role in the safety of working or playing in cold environments.

  1. Temperature. Know the temperature and be smart about the length of time of exposure accordingly.
  2. Wind. Wind speed can decrease the actual temperature your skin actually feels exposed to, so know the wind chill too.
  3. Dampness. Add rain into the mix, and even a chilly environment feels colder. Being damp and cold can create unsafe conditions even when the actual temperature isn’t extreme.
  4. Contact. When coming into contact with a cold surface, realize that your body heat will transfer into that surface making staying warm a bit more difficult.

Just one of the above factors can cause unsafe conditions, but be especially aware of environments where multiple factors exist.

Danger Signs

Anyone spending a lot of time in a cold environment should also know the danger signs for when exposure becomes unhealthy. OSHA lists the danger signs of being over-exposed to cold environments to include the following:

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsy movements
  • Fatigue
  • Confused behavior

Unfortunately, individuals experiencing these signs may not be aware of them, especially when confusion hits. For this reason, using the buddy system when working or playing in cold environments can be one of the best safety procedures to practice.

Preventative Measures

Fortunately, simply employing a few preventative measures keeps most individuals exposed to cold environments safe & healthy. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the following preventative measures when working and playing in cold environments.

  1. Proper clothing. In a word, this means layers. Start with a wicking layer followed by a layer to provide insulation and topped off with an outer layer to protect against wind and rain.
  2. Short breaks. Give your body time to warm up in warm, dry shelters periodically.
  3. Rest well. Rest allows the body to avoid exhaustion that can lead to lack of energy needed to keep muscles warm.
  4. Drink often. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and focus on warm, sweet beverages that provide quick energy.
  5. Eat heartily. Finally, a great excuse for consuming high calorie foods without guilt! Foods like pasta help stock the energy reserves needed for working and playing in cold environments.

Emergency Situations

Being prepared for staying safe in cold environments also includes knowing what to do if an emergency situation arises. The most common emergencies in cold environments include cold water immersion, trench foot, hypothermia and frost bite.

The following tips can help minimize damage and even same limbs or life in emergency situations involve exposure to cold environments.

  1. Call for help. Have access to emergency help when spending time in cold environments.
  2. Get dry. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing or blankets as quickly as possible.
  3. Create heat. Create muscle heat by moving limbs, or place warm water bottles or hot packs in arm pits, groin areas and neck and head areas if movement isn’t possible. Avoid heating too quickly though as this can lead to fatal situations.
  4. Be gentle. Especially when frostbite is suspected, use warm water to slowly warm tissue. Too much heat too quickly can actually damage the tissue.

Training & Education

The basics of cold weather safety outlined above will allow most people – those spending occasional time working and playing in cold environments – to stay safe. For those spending extended periods in cold environments, additional training and education beyond these fundamentals becomes necessary.

Take the time to get the necessary information – that which fits how much time you spend exposed as well as the type and extremeness of exposure – for staying safe while working or playing in cold weather environments.