Tips to stay safe during holiday season

  • Published
  • By Amanda Dick
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The end of each year brings many holiday festivities. It’s a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones while remembering those deployed away from family.

It can also be a time of higher risk when traveling, decorating, using the fireplace, preparing food and shopping for gifts.

Many people travel during the holidays. Whether it’s spending time with family or taking a destination trip for New Year’s Eve, make sure you’re staying safe while driving.

  • Ensure your car is ready for winter by keeping an emergency kit in it
  • Avoid driving while drowsy by getting enough sleep the night before
  • Plan ahead for traffic, leaving early if needed
  • Buckle up
  • Plan for someone to be the designated driver who remains sober of alcohol and drugs

While decorating brings the joy of the holidays, it can also land people in the emergency room.

  • Check to make sure your artificial tree is labeled “fire resistant”
  • Remove around two inches from the trunk of a live tree to expose the fresh wood – this will help with water absorption
  • Position trees three feet away from heat sources to include fireplaces and radiators
  • Use the appropriate lights (indoor lights for indoors and outdoor lights for outdoors) – select the correct ladder when hanging lights
  • When leaving the house or going to bed, ensure lights and decorations are turned off

Candles are a great aesthetic during the holidays, and fireplaces get used more during the winter months when we’ve decorated our homes for the holidays.

  • Candles need to be located in areas where they can’t be easily knocked down and are out of reach of children
  • Replace burn candles with flameless candles near flammable objects
  • When using the fireplace, ensure there is a screen on the fireplace at all times
  • Make sure candles or fireplaces aren’t left burning unattended or when asleep
  • At least yearly, check fireplaces and keep the chimney and fireplace clean

Food preparation
The holidays are a time for appetizers and grazing on delicious food throughout the day. However, that can sometimes lead to food safety issues.

  • When handling food, wash hands often
  • To ensure meat is safe to eat, use a food thermometer to ensure proper temperature
  • Refrigerate hot and cold leftovers within two hours of serving
  • Ensure separation of raw meat and fresh produce
  • Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for uncooked and cooked meat

Whether you enjoy shopping and the crowds during holidays or don’t, child safety is paramount while searching for that perfect gift for your child, grandkid, niece or nephew, cousin, or friend’s child.

  • Choose toys for the correct age range not based on their intelligence or physical abilities
  • Avoid toys with small parts that could be choking hazards for children under 3, and toys that need to be plugged into an outlet for children under 10
  • Be careful with toys that have button batteries or magnets, as they can be harmful or fatal when swallowed
  • Gift the appropriate safety gear when giving scooters and other riding toys
  • Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall website at to see if the gift you bought has been recalled or not

For more tips this holiday season, visit, click on “Community Safety” at the top, then click on “Safety Topics,” then “Seasonal Safety,” and finally “Holiday.”

Tips and information for this article were gathered from the National Safety Council, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services websites.