The holidays: a season of joy, love, family – and injuries. More than 15,000 people end up in the emergency room just from putting up decorations.
From parties to decorating, shopping and volunteering, we’re in one of the busiest times of the year. All this hustle and bustle often puts safety to the back of mind. Capt. Ric Buikema has a few tips to keep safety top of mind during this holiday season.
“First and foremost, holiday safety comes down to not rushing,” Buikema said. “The majority of holiday injuries can be avoided so just take the time you need to safely execute all of your tasks. Don’t let a mistake destroy this wonderful time that is meant to be spent with family, friends and loved ones.”
Fire is not your friend: Sure, the soft glow and sparkle it brings to your home is beautiful, but flames are one of the largest safety concerns during the holiday season. In fact, Christmas Day is the peak day of the year for home candle fires. New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve tie for second. It is important to extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Use sturdy candleholders that won’t tip over easily and are large enough to collect dripping wax. Or consider using electronic, flameless candles as a safe alternative.
Clean your chimney: Last year alone, 15,000 fires and 40 deaths in the United States were associated with fireplaces and chimneys. For your family’s safety, a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm should be installed on each level of your home. Your chimney needs annual inspection and should be cleaned quarterly depending on use.
Stop sooner: The number one reason for traffic accidents in East Grand Rapids is failing to stop in an assured cleared distance, more commonly known as a rear-end. Despite what you may think, speeding is not the primary cause of most accidents. Remember to leave a safe stopping distance of at least one car length for each 10 mph of speed between you and the car ahead.
Take caution with your tannenbaum: A beloved holiday tradition can turn into a holiday disaster very quickly. First, ensure that your tree is secured tightly in a stable base and is positioned away from a fireplace or heat source. If you’re using a real tree, make sure it is always watered well. Keep small children and pets away from the tree and ornaments high enough up where they can’t reach them.
Feast with heed: It seems like the holidays are one endless party after another – filled with an abundance of food and drinks. Don’t let the merrymaking get the best of you. Take caution when preparing meals to ensure food is heated properly and that safety hazards like knives lying around and spills are cleaned up quickly. If you’re partaking in alcohol during the holidays, ensure you have a designated driver or take a taxi or Uber. Have fun, but be smart.
Decorate with diligence: Lights, glass, ladders and small objects – what could go wrong? A lot. As you deck the halls, take caution to ensure all decorations are secured properly and small objects are out of reach for young children. When placing decorations in high places, use a ladder or a stepstool. Check any lights that you are putting up for frayed ends. Turn off all decorations when you’re not using them.
Secure your shelter: The holiday season often sees an uptick in criminal activity. Burglars know that people are purchasing expensive gifts – making it an ideal time to break in. Always keep your house and garage doors and windows securely locked. If you are traveling, put your lights on timers and have a neighbor or friend check your mail.