Holiday safety tips from Broward Health Department
To ensure a safe, happy and healthy holiday season, health officials at the Broward County Health Department offer these holiday health and safety tips:
Beware of Holiday Lighting - Take care when burning candles. Be sure they are kept away from decorations or other combustible materials. Don’t leave children or pets unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of reach of children. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits where air currents may blow them down or near curtains.
Test Tree Trimmings – When decorating with lights, be sure to purchase only those labeled by a testing laboratory. Never use candles to decorate Christmas trees. For outside decorations, use only those lights labeled for outdoor use. Don’t overload electrical outlets, and always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to bed. Never put electrical lights on a metal Christmas tree.
Prepare for Holiday Parties – Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. Avoid using candles during parties. Consider a party that is smoke-free. After the party, check inside and under upholstery and in trashcans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
Keep Christmas Trees Fresh – Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant. If you plan to hang stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
Inspect Fireplaces - Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every season and cleaned, if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned. Always protect your family and home by using a sturdy screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood – never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory and have it installed according to local codes.
Be Cautious with Portable and Space Heaters - Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don’t leave children or pets unattended with space heaters.
Designate a Driver – When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving. Don’t let guests drive if they have had too much to drink. Have someone else drive them home or call a taxi.
Buckle Up – During the holiday months, people travel more than ever. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and best way to prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure that all passengers are also wearing safety belts.
Cook with Care - When cooking, do not wear loose fitting clothing. Hot burners can ignite loose fitting clothing. Always turn pot handles in. Don’t store items on the stovetop; they could catch fire. Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off after use. Don’t overload electrical outlets, and don’t use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
Food Safety – Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits. Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands. Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children and all adults in your home do the same. Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it. Always keep raw foods and cooked food separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them. Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop. Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Monitor your children’s intake of holiday sweets. It’s okay to let them indulge for a special occasion, but be sure to balance it with healthier food choices the rest of the time.
For additional healthy holiday information, please visit the following websites:
* The National Fire Protection Association – http://www.nfpa.org
* The National Safety Council – http://www.nsc.org/Pages/HolidaySafetyTips.aspx
* The Electrical Safety Foundation – http://www.esfi.org
* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration –
For information on Broward County Health Department services and programs, visit www.browardchd.org.
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