Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Holiday Safety

The winter season is a time that most people associate with holidays, family and the company of friends. Despite the festive nature of winter holidays, there is also a risk to one's safety. A number of things can prove dangerous, both inside and outside of the home. These dangers include negligence by household members or crimes by thieves and burglars. The key to staying safe during the winter holiday season is to be aware of the risks associated with each of the holidays. Safety precautions, when properly observed, can ensure that the winter holidays are happy holidays.


Thanksgiving

The kitchen is a source for many of the dangers associated with Thanksgiving. Fires, accidental burns and food poisoning are just a few of the threats to one's safety, and often revolve around the preparation and cooking of the turkey. Before and after handling the turkey, and before touching any other food items or utensils, the cook should wash his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water to reduce some of these risks. After handling a raw bird, any surface that it has come into contact with should also be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Care should also be taken to cook the turkey thoroughly and the internal temperature should be checked using a thermometer.

To avoid burns and scalding, anyone working near the stove should wear short sleeves, or sleeves that are more fitted than loose. Place pot holders, dish and paper towels away from the burners, at a distance of at least three feet, to prevent something from catching on fire. Turning pot and pan handles inward will also help prevent accidents in which hot liquids spill and burn or scald the skin. One way to prevent fire is to never leave cooking food completely unattended, and the house should never be empty while food is cooking. Another area of concern is driving. To avoid driving when post-meal drowsy, people should wait several hours before getting back on the road. If drinking, driving should be avoided entirely.


Black Friday

Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving and when holiday gift buying officially begins. It is marked by sales offering specials discounts that are designed to lure customers in to stores, often beginning in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, Black Friday is also a day where shoppers may become the victim of crimes such as a mugging or theft. When shopping, people should be alert and aware of the people around them, and their vehicles. Parking in a location that is closest to the store or mall is ideal and if shopping when it is dark, people should always park near lighting. Purses should be worn in a way that it is close to the body and difficult to snatch. If carrying a wallet, it should be kept in the front pocket or the inside pocket of a coat or jacket. Carrying too many bags may also prove dangerous. This can leave a shopper vulnerable in the parking lot. If possible, leave children at home during Black Friday. The crowds of people can easily overwhelm a child who may be hurt or become lost. If a person must bring a child, it is important to hold onto small children to avoid separation.


Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah

Fire is a serious threat during the Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. Both Kwanzaa and Hanakkah are marked by the lighting of candles. During Kwanzaa, seven candles called the Mishumaa Saba are placed in a candle holder called a Kinara. Each night, one of the candles is lit. When celebrating Hanukkah, candles on a Menorah are lit. Both of these traditions can result in fire if care is not taken. The Kinara, and the Menorah or Hanukkah lamp should be placed on a surface that is sturdy and away from any flammable material. To prevent children from being burned or accidentally knocking them over, they should not be allowed near the burning candles. In addition, only candles that are meant for Kwanzaa or Hanukkah should be used.

Fire is also a safety issue for those celebrating Christmas. Lights used for decorative purposes often cause fires. Before stringing lights on the tree or hanging them around the home, people should check them over carefully to ensure that they are in good condition and free of frayed wires, loose connections, or cracked sockets. Plugging too many lights into a single extension cord or outlet is also a common cause of electrical fires. No more than three sets of lights should be plugged into any extension cord. Christmas trees should be kept watered to prevent them from drying out, which can present a fire risk. Trees should also be placed in a location that is away from the fireplace. When burning candles, place them away from the tree or any potentially flammable material.

During the celebration of these holidays, prepare food in a manner that will help avoid food-borne illness. During any of the holiday festivities, do not drink if driving. When traveling, plan ahead to determine the best route if traveling long distances by car. People should also avoid driving when tired, even if it means leaving later than anticipated.


New Years

Driving is the major source of injury and death for people celebrating the New Year. Often injuries are associated with New Year's Eve celebrations and the consumption of alcohol or a lack of sleep. When making plans for the New Year, a person should determine whether or not he or she plans to drink during the festivities. If yes, plans should be made to safely get home after the celebration has come to an end. This may involve going to the party with someone who does not drink. This person should be the designated driver for the evening. Carrying money for a taxi is another option or, if celebration is held in the home of family or friends, arrange to stay the night if possible. Even if a person does not plan to drink, he or she should not drive when tired. Falling asleep behind the wheel is as deadly as drinking and driving. Drowsy drivers are also less alert and may not be capable of reacting quickly enough during an emergency situation.


General Holiday Safety

Safety is important regardless of the holiday. Often safety measures for one holiday can be applied to all others. At home one can protect themselves from criminals by using caution. When leaving the house, lights and even the television can be controlled by a timer that will turn them on and off at certain times. This will give the illusion that someone is home and may help prevent someone from breaking into the home, where they could injure the homeowner if caught by surprise. Whether at home or away, the windows and doors should be locked at all times to also prevent unwanted entry. On holidays where gifts are given, they should be kept in a location where they are not clearly visible from the windows. Criminals may even come directly to the front door. People should use caution when anyone unknown comes to the door and always ask for identification before opening the door or allowing access into the home. When on the road, car doors should be locked to prevent entry and drivers should always be aware of their surroundings, even when driving. Before getting in the car, always check the back seat to ensure that no one is hiding.

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