Tips to stay happy and healthy over the holidays

By Catherine Dilworth
November 15, 2001

Katie Reing

No one probably enjoys the holiday season more than children. Taking precautions to avoid sickness or accidents can help make sure their season is healthy and safe, too.

Kevin Tracy, a pediatrician with UC Davis Medical Group, says, “Unfortunately, burns are common injuries around the holidays, but you can take several steps to promote fire safety.” Here are some tips:

Check or install smoke detectors on each level of your home, preferably outside each bedroom.

Make sure all extension cords are in good condition. Never run them under a carpet.

“Unsafe food handling is another cause of sickness during the holidays,” Tracy said, “but most problems can be easily avoided by following a few guidelines.”

Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits. Bacteria are often present in raw foods.

Wash your hands frequently, and make sure children do the same.

Never put a spoon used to taste food back into the pot without washing it.

Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate during preparation, and keep the utensil used to prepare them separate, too.

Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Never leave meat at room temperature for more than two hours.

“Holiday parties can pose safety hazards for small children,” Tracy says. He also had some points to remember during these situations.

Clean up after your holiday party. A toddler can choke on leftover food or become dangerously ill on alcohol or tobacco.

Leave the sitter the phone number of the home you are visiting in addition to numbers for police, fire, poison control center and your physician.

For additional holiday safety tips, Tracy suggests that parents check the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site at 0


This holiday season, don’t let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it’s an opportune time for crime.

If You’re Traveling
Get an automatic timer for your lights.

Ask a neighbor to watch your home, or better yet, contact the local Police and ask for the Vacation House Check Unit

Don’t forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it’s a sure sign you’re gone.

If You’re Out For The Evening
Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone’s home.

Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Do not display gifts where they can be seen from the outside.

If You’re Shopping
Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you.

Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hid shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.

Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don’t overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, and it’s not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there’s no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

Last but not least, don’t let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends and neighbors. Think about reaching out in the spirit of the season and helping someone who’s less fortunate or lonely.

Do your part to make the holidays a safe and happy time for everybody.

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Catherine Dilworth

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