WPS Health Insurance Blog

Holiday safety stories for you and the whole family

Posted by Marie Puissant

Dec 20, 2013 9:31:00 AM

holiday dinnerIf you’re reading this, you’ve made it past the copious amounts of food and happy-family-fun-time of Thanksgiving, successfully avoided being trampled by crowds on Black Friday, and you’re well on your way to celebrating the holidays and a Happy New Year. But don’t utter that sigh of relief just yet. Read on for some helpful holiday safety tips!

The Case of the Flammable Christmas Tree

Here at WPS, we appreciate all types of holiday celebrations, traditions, and religious holidays. For this instance, I’m focusing on the Christmas tradition of hauling an eight-foot pine tree into your home and decorating it with an assortment of bright and shiny objects and lights.

If you have a live tree, the National Fire Protection Association strongly advises you to keep it watered. To water a Christmas tree: cut approximately two inches off the trunk and place the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. If you don’t water your live Christmas tree, it can dry out very quickly. Once a Christmas tree is dry, it is incredibly flammable. Don’t believe me? Watch the NFPA’s “Christmas Tree Fire” video. The video is about a minute and thirty seconds long. I’ll wait.

See that? That is an extremely flammable Christmas tree. So aside from the obvious, “keep candles and other open flames away from your Christmas tree,” you should also keep your tree watered. A watered Christmas tree is a hydrated Christmas tree. And a hydrated Christmas tree is less likely to burn your house down. See the NFPA safety tips sheet for more information.

Rover and the Poisonous Plant

I have a wonderful, happy dog who likes to chew on just about everything. From shredded toilet paper rolls to a bright Badger-red pair of sandals, my dog is happiest when he can chew and shred any low-lying item in my house.

When I go home for the holidays, my parents have poinsettia plants and other potted greenery strategically placed around the house. A favorite pastime of my dog is to walk amongst the greenery. This is bad. Plants are not typically suited for the digestive systems of dogs or other household pets. Poinsettia plants are particularly harmful, as ingestion can cause death. Other plants to watch out for: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, and amaryllis. Keep these and other plants away from pets (and children) this holiday season.

The Year Everyone Got Food Poisoning

The holidays are a time to gather with your family and share many meals together. Whether your traditions include a holiday ham, Chinese takeout, a turducken, challah, or other dishes, it is generally assumed everyone will eat large amounts and take a nap afterward. No one anticipates the possible dangers of food poisoning.

To protect your guests from this nightmare scenario, make sure to wash your hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat or poultry. Don’t defrost foods at room temperature (I’m looking at you, Dad!). Instead, thaw in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving. Avoid cleaning surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges. They can hold lots of bacteria and promote bacteria growth and spread. Use clean paper towels instead.

Food poisoning is not a nice way to bring the family closer together. Cook your food safely and clean as you prepare. Your guests will thank you for it!

For additional tips on holiday safety, the National Safety Council has compiled a pretty handy list that you can print out and tape to the fridge. From all of us here at WPS, stay safe this holiday season and have a very Happy New Year!

Topics: Wellness