In this blog, we look at COVID-19 precautions you can take at home and on the road, as well as a wide-range of other tips to ensure your holidays are safe and joyous.
Whatever task you’re facing this holiday season, whether it’s decorating, shopping, traveling, cooking at home or spending time outside in the cold, think safety.
Nothing could ruin the festive spirit of the season more than a preventable trip to the hospital or worse. With a global pandemic still raging, it’s important we take the necessary steps to keep ourselves and loved ones safe while keeping hospital beds open for those fighting COVID-19.
We all want to put this pandemic behind us. By following these guidelines, we’ll not only protect ourselves and others, but contribute to stopping the spread of this deadly virus.
- Follow CDC Guidelines – Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, and practice social distancing.
- Avoid Crowds – Do your shopping online, skip the parade, big dinner parties, and New Year’s Eve celebrations
- Keep Track of Yourself – Write down where you go and who you’re around during the holiday season. If you catch COVID-19, you can help contact tracers keep infection rates low.
- Keep It Clean – If you’re having people visit, clean before they arrive and after they leave. If you’re traveling, try to remember to wipe anything you touch down with a sanitizing agent.
For more on COVID-19 and its impact on the holidays, visit the Centers for Disease Control.
On average, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with about half of the incidents involving falls, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
During the 2018 holiday season, about 17,500 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries. Last year, there were six deaths associated with holiday season decorations.
- Hanging Lights – When on a ladder, always use three points of contact. Only use indoor lights for indoors and outdoor lights for outdoors. Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights. Keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow. Turn lights and decorations off when you go to bed or leave home.
- Watch the Poison Plants – Mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, amaryllis and even poinsettias should be kept away from children and pets.
- Feed the Tree – If using a live tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Remember to water it and remove it from your home when it is dry. If you’re using an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled fire-resistant.
- Protect the Tree (and the gifts) – Keep your tree, gifts and decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, or other heat sources.
- Don’t Play with Fire – The National Fire Protection Association reports that about one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles. Make sure they’re in a place where they can’t be knocked over. Never burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
For more on holiday decoration safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Each year, more and more people are buying holiday gifts online and this year, because of the pandemic, retailers are expecting that trend to continue. But while online shoppers won’t have to worry about the many precautions recommended for those who shop in brick and mortar stores (more on that in a bit), they still should be mindful of hackers, online thieves, and shady retailers.
- Protect the Password – Make sure the passwords on your devices and apps are strong. Use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters. Consider using a password manager to keep track of more complex passwords.
- Know Your Retailer – Before buying those cool shoes you saw on that Instagram ad, check out the retailer. Many are running scams from overseas that make returns nearly impossible. Make sure you’re using a reputable, established vendor before sharing any personal or financial information.
- Put It on Credit – Credit cards have better fraud protections than bank cards.
For the mall, big box and boutique shoppers, the No. 1 thing to remember is be aware of your surroundings.
- Stay Seen and Keep It Hidden – Always park in well-lit areas, remove all items of value from sight, and lock your doors.
- Pocket Change – Avoid carrying large handbags and keep money and credit cards in your front pocket.
- Don’t Let them See Your ID – Don’t be a victim of identity theft. Keep credit cards, debit cards and other forms of identification concealed.
- Heading Home – After leaving a shopping outlet, have your car key in your hand and be ready to unlock your door.
Holiday travel, whether visiting a friend’s house nearby or catching a plane to a relative’s home on the other side of the country is unpredictable. Weather, road conditions, and more can cause delays.
- Tick, Tock – Whether you’re driving to catch a flight or going on a road trip, always give yourself more time than you’ll think you need.
- Dress for the Occasion – Don’t wear shorts and a T-shirt on your plane from Minnesota to Miami, FL. What happens if you’re on the way to the airport and your car breaks down?
- Clean Break – In the airport or on the plane, use sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer on a tissue to clean any areas that may be touching your head, face, arms, or hands.
As far as holiday travel goes, most still choose to go by car. While many continue to make safe driving practices a priority, it’s especially important around the holidays. With people visiting relatives in unfamiliar locales plus alcohol being involved in roughly one-third of all holiday traffic fatalities, according to Injury Facts, safe driving this time of year is vitally important.
- The Best Defense – Practice defensive driving.
- Don’t Skid – If you’re on an icy road and start to skid, turn into the skid. That means if the car’s rear wheels begin drifting to the left while making a right-hand turn, the driver should turn the wheel left.
- Breakdowns Happen – Make sure you have a winter emergency preparedness kit in your car.
- Sleep Tight – Before a road trip, get a good night’s sleep to avoid drowsy driving.
- Buckle Up and Put the Phone Away – Make sure everyone wears a seatbelt and put the mobile phone away. You don’t need any more distractions.
- Take One for the Team – If you plan on going to a holiday party, make sure you have someone serve as a designated driver.
What would the holidays be without all the food? A Tuesday. Make sure you cook safely with these tips.
- Be Alarmed – Make sure the smoke alarms near your kitchen and throughout your home are working properly.
- Keep a Watchful Eye – If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended. Consider using a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on and be sure to keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove.
- Fight the Fire – Make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Fried Piper – While the National Safety Commission discourages the use of turkey fryers because of the dangers they pose to people and property, if you are frying a turkey, it’s recommended that you follow the U.S. Fire Administration’s Turkey Fryer Guidelines.
- The Prep and the Leftovers – Make sure what you serve and what you eat is safe. Wash your hands frequently when handling food; keep raw meat away from produce; use separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination; make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature and; refrigerate hot or cold leftovers within two hours of being served.
For more on food safety, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ food safety website.
Many parts of North America will be dealing with near-freezing or freezing temperatures and possibly snow during the holidays. Cold temperatures, ice accumulation and overexerting oneself shoveling snow are among the outdoor dangers of the holidays.
- Insulate Yourself – Dress in layers, with a wind-resistant outer layer. Wear a hat, gloves and keep your face warm with a scarf or mask. Wear warm waterproof footwear. Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Avoid Exertion – Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold.
- Watch Your Step – Watch out for ice. Remove snow and ice from your home’s driveways, walkways, and steps.
From all of us at Team Herc, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!