The Holiday season encourages us to ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,’ go ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘Have a Cup of Cheer,’ and trust me all of that sounds wonderful but I can’t help but also add that we should be smart about it. Who says you can’t have it all right? You can enjoy yourself during the holidays, relax a little, and be on Santa’s good list by being safe, too.

Here are some helpful tips to make ‘Christmas brownie points’ with Santa and keep you and your family safe and on his good list.

Cooking:

When preparing that wonderful, delicious holiday meal there are a few things to keep in mind. Never leave a stove unattended, because unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires.  You should also make sure you wash your hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. Food-borne illnesses are especially prevalent around the holiday season. Use separate cutting boards, plate and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.  Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration website provides some valuable holiday food safety tips to follow.

Space Heaters:

Do not leave a space heater unattended and make sure you turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Do not let pets or children play too close to a space heater, because they will get hurt.

Poisonous Holiday Plants:

Some popular and beautiful holiday plants can also be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and pets.  Holly berries can be poisonous. A child can eat 1-2 holly berries without harm, but 20 holly berries is a serious concern.  You don’t want to eat a beautiful, decorative poinsettia that is on your holiday dinner plate or placed by your fireplace. Worst case scenario, if you eat a few leaves of a poinsettia you will feel ill or vomit, but they’re not the absolute worst holiday plant to have around.  On the other hand, mistletoe contains phoradendron which can cause blurred vision, nausea, and even death. All parts of the mistletoe are poisonous, but the berries are most attractive to kids. If your child eats 1-2 berries of mistletoe, it probably won’t cause a problem, but if your pet eats a few leaves or berries it could be endangered.

Christmas Trees:

Make sure you are watering your Christmas tree daily, because dry trees can cause a very serious fire hazard. You should also make sure that they are on a stable platform at all times.

To remainInspect Electrical Decorations for Damage Before Use: 

Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire. Cracked or damaged sockets can also cause a serious shock or start a fire. You don’t want to overload electrical outlets, and you should only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time. Connecting more than three strands of lights may not only blow a fuse, but it can also cause a serious fire.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM):

If you absolutely have to stop at the ATM before a night out, try to choose one that is located inside a mall, police station or well-lighted location.  You should only withdraw the amount of cash that you will need. You can protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keyboard from anyone who is standing near you. Whatever you do, do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

Attending a Party:

If you’re invited to that special holiday party your friends or family have every year, make sure you have something to eat before consuming any alcoholic beverages. Eat things like high protein foods, which will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Only time will truly eliminate alcohol from your body, so know your safe limit and don’t drink and drive. To remain on the good list, be sure you designate a sober driver to give you a ride home, even if it’s on a sleigh.

Stay Warm:

‘Oh the weather outside is frightening… and those cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. To remain on the good list, be sure to dress warmly and wear lots of layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing. Make sure you are checking on the kiddos, your elders and don’t forget about your furry friends as well.  Our pets sometimes seem to be the last thing we think about at this time of year, so be sure to make sure they are cozy and warm as well.

Manage Stress:

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health.  Be sure not to over-commit to too many parties and activities, and do your best not to over-spend.  Balancing your work, home and play is a tough task, but with the support of family and friends it is possible to have a relaxed attitude about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and possibly catch some zzzz’s at night as well.

‘Tis the season of ‘love’ and ‘craziness!’ Try to take lots of deep breaths and remember that none of us are perfect, but we can do our best to enjoy this holiday season as safely as possible. 

I know I definitely want to be on ‘Santa’s Good List,’ so I will be taking my own advice and using these tips as well.

Here are some additional links to help you do some more research on how to keep your family on Santa’s good list this year:

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