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The Dangers That Lurk Around the Holidays

There is a lot to celebrate during the holidays. But if you aren’t careful, the laughter and cheer could easily be cut short by one of the dangers in your home. Here are four dangers to keep in mind.

Dangers in the kitchen

Cooking fires are the number one culprit of home fires, causing 165,600 fires each year and 3,200 injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, the number of non-fire cooking burns is much higher than cooking fire injuries, with children under 5 years old at the highest risk of receiving a cooking burn. 

Some safety tips in the kitchen include:

  • Cooking on the back burner on your stove to avoid contact burns
  • Using mitts for pulling items from the oven and microwave
  • Keeping children and pets three feet away from the cooking area
  • Turning off the heat and putting a lid (or cookie sheet) on the pan if grease flares up

If you receive a burn, run cool water over the injured area. Then clear the area with soap and water; apply a topical antibacterial ointment like Neosporin, cover with a bandage, and call for help. If serious, call 911.

Food dangers

About one in six Americans get sick from foodborne diseases each year. Adults aged 65 and older, children under 5, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant people are at higher risk of food poisoning.

The CDC recommends following these steps to prevent foodborne illness:

  • Clean your area before, during, and after preparing food. Make sure you wash your hands before and after.
  • Keep foods separated, especially raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use separate cutting boards and knives.
  • Cook foods thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure you cook food to the right internal temperature.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

If you’re cooking turkey or other poultry, take steps to avoid salmonella poisoning. Use these food safety tips to prepare your turkey properly for you and your guests.

Toy dangers

In 2021, there were more than 152,000 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries to children under age 15. Injuries from toys include choking, suffocation, lacerations, and abrasions. The CPSC recommends following age guidance and toy safety information when purchasing a gift for a child.

Pediatricians at University of Utah Health provide tips on how to buy the best toy for a child based on their physical, social, and mental development.

Decoration dangers

It’s not one we think of much, but several holiday decorations and traditions are a fire danger. Dry Christmas trees, candles, and holiday lights are some of the common perpetrators. The CPSC provides advice on how to keep safe from these dangers, such as making sure your tree has plenty of water and not overloading electrical outlets.

Some other common holiday injuries that send people to the emergency department or urgent care include: 

  • Falls from decorating incidents
  • Electrical shocks
  • Back injuries from carrying or lifting boxes or luggage
  • Cuts from opening presents

The best gift you can give someone this year is your health and well-being. Follow these tips to make sure you have a safe and healthy holiday season.