STATE SAFETY OFFICE
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
330 OLD NISKAYUNA ROAD
LATHAM, NY 12110-2224
Safety Message 20-12
December is Holiday Safety Month
Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season
Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes. Take some basic precautions to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.
Traveling for the Holidays? Be Prepared
Many people choose to travel by car during the holidays, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. In 2019, 454 people died during the Thanksgiving week (Wednesday, November 27, 2019 to Monday, December 2, 2019) and 799 from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day (Tuesday, December 24, 2019 to Thursday, January 2, 2020). According to Injury Facts, alcohol impairment was involved in about a third of the fatalities.
Stay safe on the roads over the holidays and every day
With COVID-19 still an issue, every individual should take measures to keep themselves, and the ones they care about, safe. Refer to the CDC for safety tips to keep everyone safe this holiday season. Make sure to check https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home for the latest mandates to ensure that you comply with all travel requirements and safety protocols.
Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season.
When decorating, follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Keep potentially poisonous plants - mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis - away from children
- If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant”
- If using a live tree, cut off about 2 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
- Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways
- Avoid placing breakable ornaments, or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children can reach them
- Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and choose the right ladder for the task when hanging lights
- Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections
- Follow the package directions on the number of light sets that can be plugged into one socket
- Never nail, tack or stretch wires when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow
- Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house
Watch Out for Fire-Starters
Candles and Fireplaces
Use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes during the holidays, means more risk for fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
- Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over and out of reach of children
- Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach for children in a locked cabinet
- Use flameless, rather than lighted, candles near flammable objects
- Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
- Use a screen on the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning
- Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended or when you are asleep
- Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
According to the National Fire Protection Association: deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage each year.
NSC discourages the use of turkey fryers at home and urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments or consider using an oil-less turkey fryer. If you must fry your own turkey, follow all U.S. Fire Administration turkey fryer guidelines.
Food Poisoning Is No Joke
Keep your holidays happy by handling food safely. The foodsafety.gov website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides some valuable holiday food safety tips:
- Wash your hands frequently when handling food
- Keep raw meat away from fresh produce
- Use separate cutting boards, plates 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
- Refrigerate hot or cold leftover food within two hours of being served
- When storing turkey, cut the leftovers in small pieces so they will chill quickly
- Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for three to four days when properly refrigerated
Watch this holiday food safety video for more information.
It's Better to Give Safely
Gifts and toys should inspire joy, not cause injuries. More than a quarter of a million children were seriously injured in toy-related incidents in 2019. Avoid safety hazards while gifting with these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Toys are age-rated for safety, not for children’s intellect and physical ability, so be sure to choose toys in the correct age range
- Choose toys for children under 3 that do not have small parts which could be choking hazards
- For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet
- Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets, which can be harmful or fatal if swallowed
- When giving scooters and other riding toys, give the gift of appropriate safety gear too. Helmets should be worn at all times and should be sized to fit
To find out more about holiday toy safety and recalls, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.