5 things to sour your holidays--and how to fix them

holiday_travel_safety

The holidays are a wonderful time to travel. Maybe you have plans to travel to visit family, friends or exciting destinations. While you may not think about it, these adventures also open an opportunity for things to go wrong on the road and at home, which is why there are a few things to keep in mind as you’re getting ready for holiday joy.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that is a result of incomplete burning of a fuel, such as natural gas or anything containing carbon. Prolonged exposure to CO can have disastrous effects from CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Brain damage 
  • Death

Every year, CO exposure causes more than 20,000 Americans to visit the emergency room, 4,000 to be hospitalized and 400 to die. Additionally, 36% of the reported deaths happen during the months of December, January and February.

Tip: If you’re traveling, take at least one battery-operated CO detector with you. It’ll keep you protected just in case your destination doesn’t have one. Staying home? Make sure you have a working CO detector next to each sleeping area. Follow manufacturer’s directions for testing.

Don’t forget: Never sit in an idling car with your windows closed, especially if something could be blocking your exhaust pipe. This can be fatal!

Electrical outlets

According to statistics, there are nearly 30,000 non-fatal electrical shock injuries, and 20% of those affect children. Additionally, there are 1,000 deaths per year. What may be an even more surprising statistic is that nearly one-third of parents of young children do not childproof their electrical outlets.

Tip: Traveling with small children over the holidays can leave parents’ minds a little scattered. You may not think about it, but something you should consider is the electrical safety at your destination. Going home to visit family? Ask them if they have childproofed or would be willing to. Staying in a hotel? Pack a few of the plastic outlet covers to take with you. With all the excitement of the holidays, the last thing you want to worry about is your kiddo finding out how much an electrical shock hurts.

Smoke detectors

We cannot emphasize the importance of smoke detectors enough. Simply put: smoke detectors save lives. Check out these surprising facts from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • The NFPA reports that, between 2009 and 2013, smoke alarms sounded in 53% of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • In fires that resulted in death, nearly 60% of the fires were in homes without smoke detectors or had non-functioning smoke detectors.
  • In 38% of home fires that resulted in death, the homes were not equipped with smoke detectors.
  • The home fires where smoke detectors were present but not operative, 46% of them had missing or disconnected batteries.

Tip: This is one of the easiest to fix! The NFPA advises you to test the smoke detectors at least once a month. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions to test. If they’re not working, you may need to replace the battery or have them inspected. 

Don’t forget: You should replace all smoke detectors in your home every 10 years. It ensures they are operating at their peak performance. 

Medications

It’s a reality some people need to take medications, and if you take them, you probably don’t want to worry about taking a whole bottle with you. If you’re visiting someone who must take them, they might keep them in easy-to-open containers.

Sometimes, these situations lead to medications getting misplaced, dropped or otherwise in the hands of a small child who mistakes it for candy. Nearly 60,000 children younger than 5 years old go to emergency departments each year because they ate or drank medication when they were unsupervised, according to the CDC. Of those visits, almost 70% of them are children who are 1 or 2 years old.

Tip: The CDC has several recommendations to keep your children safe from accidentally swallowing medications:

  • Keep your medications somewhere safe and out of young children’s reach or sight. 
  • After taking your medicine, do not leave it out. Put it away where you safely store it.
  • Never, ever leave children alone with medicines. If something happens, and you have to do something else before taking your medicine—answer the door or the phone—take the medicine with you.
  • Ask visitors to your home to keep anything that may have medicine in them—purses, coats, bags, etc.—out of the reach and sight of children.

Remember, you should also never tell your children that medicine is candy to convince them to take it. This teaches the wrong message and may lead them to trying to sneak some when you’re not aware.

Alcohol

It really should go without saying, but: Never drink and drive. Not only are you putting our own life at risk, but you risk the lives of everyone on the road. With ride share options, taxis and public transportation, there is no need for driving after drinking.

Aside from that advice, there is another piece you need to be aware of to make sure that the holidays are safe and enjoyable for everyone. You may not think about it, but you also need to be aware of kids around alcohol.

According to poison control, alcohol causes a child’s blood sugar to drop, leading to seizures, coma and even death. Unsupervised alcoholic beverages can be enticing for kids of all ages. They may not know the difference from a rum and Coke and a regular Coke until after they’ve drank some.

Tip: Clean up alcoholic beverages right after a party, so the kids don’t find them the following morning. Try designating someone to watch the children during holiday parties to make sure they don’t get into something they shouldn’t. Also, it’s best to keep your alcohol in a locked cabinet to keep sneakier older children from raiding the supply when parents aren’t home or aware.

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