‘Tis the season for shopping, feasting, parties and overindulgence. But as I check off my list of gifts and events in preparation for the holidays, I realized there are also many things to take into account when it comes to ensuring my family and friends stay safe over the season.
To help you stay safe over the holidays, we at Safety Ahead have compiled a list of our top hazards to take note of and avoid this time of year.
HOLIDAY HOME SAFETY:
One of the most dangerous and alarming facts I learned while researching holiday home safety was the devesting spike in house fires that occur this time of year. Statistics from the Government of Alberta’s Office of the Fire Commissioner show that during the winter holiday season, fire-related deaths in Alberta homes double compared to the rest of the year. But why is this number so high?
- With the temperatures dropping, many of us turn to using portable space heaters as a source to stay warm. But when not used and/or supervised properly, these heaters are a huge fire hazard. To ensure your heater is safe – keep it away from walls, curtains, furniture and highly trafficked areas. This will help prevent fires and tripping over it. Also never leave a space heater plugged in overnight or while sleeping.
- Lights, decorations, toys and electronics – many of these items can lead to over use of plug-ins and in turn overloaded power circuits which can overheat and cause a fire. Always turn off all lights and electrically powered items when going to bed or leaving your home over the holidays. And for exterior lights, be sure to plug into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). These plugs are designed to cut power off if wet, preventing any electrical incidents.
- Putting up a real Christmas tree? Keep it away from vents, hot appliances, fireplaces and candles and be sure to water your tree daily to keep it hydrated.
- Chestnuts roasting by an open fire? Not a good idea! Woodburning fireplaces should always have screen placed in front of them to protect people and your home from flying sparks. Also, be sure to remove any stockings or garland hanging from a mantel while the fireplace is in use. Finally, never throw giftwrap or boxes into the fire – they burn rapidly and can contain materials that are toxic to breathe in.
HOLIDAY TRAVEL SAFETY:
With inclement weather and road trips don’t lend themselves to the best of travel, now is the time to prepare your vehicle and family. And when Alberta’s winter temperatures easily getting into the -20’s, and even as bone-chilling as the -40’s with the windchill, if you’re not equipped to handle the weather should an emergency occur it will not take long for hypothermia to take hold.
- Be sure to pack a road safety kit in your vehicle at al times, but for the holidays add these winter necessities – flashlight, small shovel, snowbrush with scraper, blanket(s), first-aid kit, jumper cables, flares, sand, antifreeze, non-perishable food (such as protein bars) and bottled water.
- Dress for the weather – this includes all family members. Should your car breakdown and you are without heat, warm layers of clothing, winter boots, mitts and toques will help keep your body temperature at a steady rate for longer. Ensure all children, and even pets - which I have forgotten to account for, have the clothing required to stay warm and safe. In the case of being stranded or broken down - remember that your first priority is to stay warm, over water or food.
HOLIDAY WORK SAFETY:
Now that you are raring to go and enjoy a relaxing holiday break, you also need to ensure your workplace is left safe over the holidays should it be closed or for those working during the season.
- Unplug any electrical tools or appliances not in use – such as space heaters, toasters, etc.
- Stock company vehicles with winter road safety kits – based on the supplies listed above.
- Ensure there is a safety plan and check-ins in place for anyone working alone or with minimal interactions over the holiday season.
- Securely lock and arm any security systems in place while over the holidays. With many workplaces, jobsites and vehicles vacant during the season, be sure to do your part to deter any mischief or theft.
I have made my list and am now checking it twice to ensure my family’s well-being is now a priority along with all of the other hustle and bustle. By putting these holiday safety plans into action now you can enjoy the most out of this festive time of year and help ensure your loved ones and colleagues all have a safe and wonderful season too.
From the Safety Ahead team to you and yours – wishing you all the best for the holidays and new year!