By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
While fall harvest is recognized as one of the busiest times of year on the farm, the holiday season ranks right up there as another hectic time for most families. The month of December always seems to go by in the blink of an eye. Many look forward to the holiday season all-year long, but between the shopping, decorating, cooking and baking, entertaining, cleaning, traveling, and the holiday gathering and parties, stress levels can be at an all-time high. Often, these are the times we tend to lose sight of our safety focus.
The kitchen serves as a very special gathering place for holiday traditions and memories while cooking or baking; however, the accessibility of knives and other sharp utensils, along with hot surfaces on the stovetop or oven, can prove to be hazardous if distracted. Talk with your children about some of the dangers in the kitchen and how they can prevent an incident from occurring or what to do if one occurs. Along with cooking and baking, the kitchen can also be a prime location where a fire can start, so ensure you have a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher nearby.
When decorating, be sure to practice safe lifting and safe use of the ladder. While decorating outside, watch for slippery surfaces or tripping hazards. Don’t spend your holidays in the hospital bed or laid up on the couch. Check for any frayed or pinched wires on warn decorations, keep flammable items at least 3 feet from open flames and heating sources, and avoid stringing together extension cords or running under rugs, carpets or furniture.
Holiday travel can also lead to high stress levels. Whether traveling a short or long distance, Mother Nature can be unpredictable this time of year and throw a wrench in our plans. Therefore, always give yourself plenty of time to arrive safely. Avoid making up for running late by speeding or taking shortcuts around roadway safety. It is more important that you arrive alive, than on-time. Always be prepared for unexpected issues that may occur when traveling. Get your car serviced regularly, ensure your tires are in good condition, have an ample supply of gas, and purchase an emergency kit (containing things like first aid items, supply of food and water, flashlights, blanket, etc.) in your car. You can give the gift of safety by purchasing one of these kits for a loved one. Always make it a habit to drive responsibly. If you feel impaired (or notice someone else is impaired), never get behind the wheel and give the keys to a sober driver.
Lastly, take care of yourself! You are taking care of so many others, don’t feel guilty about treating yourself. This may include selecting a little something for yourself while shopping, taking a relaxing bubble bath, or curling up on the couch to your favorite holiday movie. Also, avoid the slump that seems to happen following the New Year. Typically, all the holiday cheer and socializing that is amplified in November and December comes to a screeching halt at the beginning of the year. Move or plan a party in mid-January, this may be a welcomed change by friends or family. Otherwise, plan a mini-vacation or something to look forward to as the excitement of the holiday season fades.
These holiday safety tips are brought to you by Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For more information or to locate a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day near you, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. You can help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2020 with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321.
Photo: At many Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, participants learn how to assemble various types of first aid kits for use in the car, in the home or on the farm. As the first aid kits are assembled, participants identify the purpose of each item added to the kit and how it can be used in the event of an emergency.