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Have a Safe & Healthy Holiday

November 30, 2017
By Cheryl Kaczor - Contributing Writer , OVParent

The next few months are a time when many are busy shopping, traveling, decorating and cooking. But in each of these meaningful activities we can encounter hazards to the health of ourselves and our families. What steps can we take to make sure that we remain safe and healthy during what many song artists say and many of us believe "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"?

Hands Off

Because we are often out and about, touching items to purchase for that someone special, grabbing a quick meal on the run and just being in contact with hundreds of strangers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands.

When washing your hands make sure you use warm water and soap and rub them together for at least 20 seconds using running water. (Sing the whole "ABC" song.) This is important for both adults and children and especially before you touch your face or eat. Hand sanitizer is a good in-between clean-up, but soap and water is your best bet!

Travel Mercies

Plan ahead for weather emergencies. Use your mobile apps or have a map. Watch the weather in your area and your destination. Have extra water, snacks and blankets stored in your car along with a flashlight and an emergency kit with flares in case you encounter bad weather and/or end up stuck along the road.

Wear your safety belt at all times and make sure children are in car seats that are the correct size and installed properly. If you have a long trip, take breaks along the way. If you are tired, pull over.

There are many people traveling during the holidays. Be alert and slow down. It's better to arrive a little late than not at all.

Hot Topic

When decorating, consider fire safety. Most fires happen during the winter months. Many people have fireplaces going, candles burning and extra electrical wires used for lighting homes and trees. Have your chimney checked before you use your fireplace. Creosote can build up in the chimney and cause a fire. Never leave candles unattended when burning. Keep them away from children, curtains, trees or other flammable items. When using lights, check all the wiring for loose or exposed wires. Don't put furniture or rugs on top of the wiring or extension cords, and check that children, pets or elderly people cannot get a hold of them or trip over them.

Turkey Talk

Finally, consider food safety. Wash your hands before you handle any food. Give yourself time to thaw a turkey safely in the refrigerator. If it is not defrosted all the way, then use a cold sink of water and change the water every 30 minutes, or use the microwave. Never defrost on the counter.

Be careful not to cross-contaminate fresh foods with raw meat or fish. Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw foods and cooked foods. Do not rinse raw meat or poultry - you are just spreading the bacteria.

Cook foods to the correct temperature using a meat thermometer. Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Finally, put your leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours after they've sat out.

Remember to think safety and health as you enjoy one of the most wonderful times of the year! Happy holidays!

Cheryl Kaczor is a families and health agent at West Virginia University Extension in Marshall County.



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