By Samantha Harsh, Health & Safety Consultant

The busy holiday season is here! Family, friends, and colleagues are gathering to celebrate. In this article, we will look at ways to ensure you and your loved ones are safe as you enjoy the gifts of the season.

Deck the Halls

Decorating for the holidays is one of the many ways to get everyone in the spirit. Trimming the tree, hanging the lights, and lighting the menorah are favorite holiday pastimes, but they can create hazards. By decorating your home with care and taking precautions, you can reduce the risk of a house fire, which is more likely to happen during the winter months than at any other time of year. Follow these tips for a safe holiday season.

> Use the correct type of ladder when hanging lights, and set it up at the proper angle (4:1).

> Ensure lights are used according to their rating. Do not use lights rated for indoor use outdoors and vice versa. 

> Unplug the lights on your tree whenever you leave the house and before you go to bed.

> Ensure artificial trees are listed as Flame Resistant, and always check the lights on the tree for any damaged or missing bulbs. Make sure power strips or outlets are not overloaded.

> Place Christmas trees (artificial and live) at least 3 feet away from any heat source.

> Cut at least 2 inches off the trunk of a live Christmas tree before placing it in the stand. Be sure to water the tree daily and keep the water level above the trunk base.

> Consider using flameless candles or wax-melting warmers instead of flame candles.

> Be sure to blow out candles before you leave your house or fall asleep.

> Extinguish candles before they get too low.

> Always use an appropriately sized holder or stand when burning a candle.

In the Kitchen

A big part of the festivities in many homes is the activity in the kitchen while preparing the food. Whether it’s a cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres, a cookie exchange, or a family feast, the kitchen is central to it all. Do your part to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time by following these best practices for kitchen safety.

> Prevent grease buildup with regular cleaning.

> Use a timer as a reminder to regularly check dishes that are simmering, baking, or roasting.

> Always remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food.

> Turn pot and pan handles to the side of the stove, rather than facing outward, to avoid an accident.

> Store or hang any flammable items, such as curtains, wooden utensils, potholders, dish towels, etc., away from ovens, stoves, microwaves, and other equipment that generates heat.

> Avoid wearing loose clothing or tops with wide sleeves that dangle as these can easily get caught on lids, handles, doorknobs, etc.

> Remove trip hazards, such as throw rugs, bags, gifts, and toys. While children and pets should be at least 3 feet away from the stove, it is best to keep them away from the cooking area entirely.

> Install a smoke detector in or near the kitchen; consider purchasing a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen use.

> Remember to check the kitchen before going to sleep. Make certain all appliances, especially the stove and oven, are off.

On the Road

The holidays are the most common time to travel and visit friends and family. Preparing for long car rides and unexpected weather conditions along the way is essential to having a successful trip. The following tips will help you prepare your vehicle and your family for the travel ahead.

> Ensure your vehicle’s emergency car kit is safely secured and easily accessible.

> Winterize your car by following these instructions:

> Test your car’s battery.

> Check the tires on your car to ensure adequate tread and pressure.

> Check the wiper blades. Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees.

> Ensure your gas tank is at least half full.

> Always leave time for unexpected traffic or weather. Leave early and allow time for breaks.

> Attend defensive driver training to learn safe driver skills.

> Designate sober drivers when consuming alcohol.

However, physical and environmental dangers are not the only safety concerns during the holidays. This time of the year brings additional stressors to our already busy lives, which can make life overwhelming. Therefore, it’s equally important to prioritize our mental well-being, too. Our latest Toolbox Talk, “Is It Seasonal Affective Disorder or the Holiday Blues?,” is a helpful resource that reviews these two similar conditions. By understanding them, we can create a safer workplace for everyone.

Does your company need specialized safety training? RETTEW offers a variety of courses and services, like construction safety oversight and high-risk work program consultation, to ensure you and your staff are prepared. Contact us to learn more about RETTEW’s comprehensive and compliant safety training programs and consultations.

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Safety training and consulting are only some of RETTEW’s 600-plus services. Our safety team works hand in hand with engineers, scientists, project managers, and other technical experts at places such as manufacturing facilities, drill pads, and commercial construction sites. We are well respected for our work in a diverse number of industries and are known for ensuring workers and equipment remain safe, which keeps your projects on track and your bottom line growing.