The holidays are a time to celebrate, give thanks, and reflect. They are also a time to pay special attention to your health. So while Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice, take a few minutes to check the following tips for keeping your family safe and healthy during the holiday season.
Wash your hands often. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
Stay warm. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for infants and older adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing so layers can be removed or added as the weather dictates. Don't forget the mittens, hats, scarves and waterproof boots.
Manage stress. Keep a check on over-commitment and over-spending. Balance work, home and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get enough sleep.
Travel safely. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle, no matter how short the trip. Buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to his/her height, weight, and age. Be sure to keep emergency supplies in your vehicle in case you get stranded in bad weather.
Prevent injuries. Injuries from falls often occur around the holidays. Use step stools instead of furniture when hanging decorations. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Test and change batteries regularly. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.
Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving the house or going to bed. Don't overload extension cords.
Choose decorations made with flame resistant, flame retardant or non-combustible materials.
Don't use generators, grills, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.
Handle and prepare food safely. As you prepare holiday meals, keep you and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often.
Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature, using a food thermometer to be sure food is safely done but not over cooked.
Eat healthy and be active. With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose more vegetables and fruit.
Fresh fruit can be a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Watch portion size. Find fun ways to stay active. Be active for at least 2 1/2 hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
This information was taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, www.health.gov, where consumers can find information on many health and wellness topics. Or, contact me in the Southwind Extension District's Fort Scott office at (620) 223-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Southwind District -- Fort Scott office. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or email@example.com.