WASHINGTON — From twinkling lights to the smell of pine and peppermint, it is evident that the holiday season is now upon us. While we anticipate this season to be joyous and magical, unfortunately the reality of electrical and fire incidents, slips and falls, and kitchen mishaps can quickly ruin plans. Therefore, to ensure we keep this time of year merry and bright, let’s keep a trip to the emergency room out of sight.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly 200 home fires per year are related to Christmas trees. To avoid electrical fires only purchase lights from reputable retailers and only those approved by nationally recognized testing labs. Inspect both indoor and outdoor lights for broken sockets, frayed wires, and loose connections. Never overload outlets with too many electrical devices as this could cause a fire. Avoid using “real” open flame candles, if possible, and instead consider using battery-operated ones. If you use your fireplace frequently, consider hanging decorations somewhere other than your mantle, as many decorations tend to be flammable. If you have a real Christmas tree, always make sure it has plenty of water and it isn’t near heat sources. And finally, don’t forget to turn off your decorations each night before you head to bed.
Each year, nearly 5,800 individuals are treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained from falls while decorating. To avoid slips and falls, it is important to practice ladder safety. Follow the 1-to-4 rule for extension ladders: for every four feet the ladder rises, move the base out one foot from the structure. Remember to always keep three points of contact on the ladder such as two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand and never use furniture as a ladder.
We have all heard the saying, “there are too many cooks in the kitchen,” however, we must ensure there is at least one cook in the kitchen. Getting distracted or multitasking may leave the stove burners unattended creating a dangerous environment. When cooking, always pay close attention to what you are doing and your surroundings. Always keep a working fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it correctly. Ensure you have smoke alarms at least 10-feet from your stove and test them regularly. Baking traditions may bring more children into the kitchen during the holidays. Therefore, always carefully supervise children and keep them away from hot appliances and sharp utensils. Additionally, prevent the risk of foodborne illness by washing hands frequently, use a food thermometer to ensure food is thoroughly cooked, and keep prepared foods away from raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood.
Lastly, always keep in mind the curiosity of children during this time of year. When decorating, ensure breakable ornaments are placed high out of their reach. Also, be cautious of small parts, magnets, or button batteries found in toys, remote controls, and other electronic devices. These can be dangerous if swallowed.
A special thanks to our 3-star sponsor, State Farm, for providing many of these holiday safety tips.
The “Safety Day Corner” is a safety message by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation® (PAF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with the mission to provide education, training, and resources to make farm, ranch, and rural life safer and healthier for all children and their communities. Recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North American, the Foundation’s Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, has reached more than 1.8 million youth – and counting – since the program’s inception in 1995. For more information about PAF and its programs, visit: www.progressiveag.org.
–Jana L. Davidson,
Progressive Agriculture Foundation Education Content Specialist