Shopping, cooking, crackling fires and twinkling lights – all essential elements of the winter holiday season.
It’s a time of celebration and, often, distraction. All of those essential elements can turn into hazards when we let our guard down. With knowledge and planning, however, they don’t have to be.
For parents, child safety should be top-of-mind
The youngest among your brood may need repeated safety reminders (“Don’t speak to strangers,” for instance) while you’re out and about this time of year.
Prepare them before you leave the car and again upon entering the mall, for what to do in the event you are separated.
Remind them to remain inside the mall, preferably at a spot that you’ve predetermined and pointed out. Show them a security guard so they know who to approach if they’re lost and can’t locate the meeting spot.
Keep their safety in mind while decorating the home for the holidays as well. Place the menorah up high and hang ornaments and anything with a cord, out of their reach.
Game pieces and other small items, such as dreidel, are choking hazards for the tiny ones.
Let’s get back to shopping
Two types of crimes become more prevalent during the winter holiday season, robbery and personal larceny, according to Janet Lauritsen, professor of criminology and criminal justice. These include a high incidence of vehicle break-ins and purse snatchings.
Here are some tips lower your risk of becoming a victim while shopping:
- Before you leave your car, think ahead to when you’ll be returning. If it will be after dark, park as close to a source of light as possible.
- Check the car to ensure you’ve left nothing of value on the seat or floor.
- Put your phone away, keep your keys in your hand (with the ends pointing outward to use as a weapon) and walk briskly and with purpose. The less distracted you appear, the better your chances of not becoming a victim.
- Don’t enter the car until you’ve checked under and behind the car and the backseat. These are all popular hiding places for perps.
Avoid home fires
Holiday trees can dry out quickly and become fire hazards. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association claims that “a dry tree can catch fire and burn faster than newspaper.” See for yourself at YouTube.com.
- Water your tree every day over the season.
- Place the tree at least three feet from heat sources.
- Check light strings for frayed or exposed wires and broken light sockets.
- Don’t run extension cords under carpets or rugs and never overload them.
- Avoid the use of real candles on the tree.
Holidays are risky for pets, too
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers tips to keep your pets safe over the holidays:
- Some holiday plants, such as holly, poinsettias and mistletoe are toxic for dogs and cats.
- Holiday tree water, standing in the reservoir, may contain fertilizers so don’t allow your dog to drink from it.
- Ensure that the tree is secured to the stand so that a curious, climbing cat doesn’t topple it over.
- Chocolate and raisins are toxic for dogs.
- Foil ingested may mean a trip to the emergency vet. Foil candy wrappers and tinsel should be placed out of your pets’ reach.
Keep the holidays safe by preparing and by not allowing yourself to become distracted to possible danger.