The holidays can be a great time to be with family and friends. This time of year, there are many celebrations and get-togethers, as well as decorating and shopping. With so much to do and so many people to see, staying healthy may not be at the top of your “to do” list. But to avoid a “bah humbug” holiday; follow these tips for staying healthy and safe all season long.
• Wash your hands. One of the simplest ways you can keep yourself from getting sick is to wash your hands often. Washing your hands helps you avoid getting sick and passing germs along to others, such as your friends and family.
• Wear layers. As the temperature drops, it is important that you stay warm. Wearing several layers of clothing, along with hats, gloves and scarfs, can keep you warm. This is especially important for older adults.
• Travel safely. With so many people on the roads this time of year, be extra careful and on the watch for other cars. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt, even if it’s just for a short trip; you never know when an accident might happen. Also, if you are celebrating, make sure you do not drink and drive.
• Decorate with care. This time of year you may be hanging decorations beyond your everyday reach. Make sure to use securely placed ladders. This is important for both indoor and outdoor decorations. Do not use chairs or balance multiple items on top of one another to reach items placed high in cabinets. A fall could certainly bring down your holiday joy.
• Prevent fires. Did you know that most residential fires happen during the winter? If you decide to light candles, keep them away from children and pets. Also, place candles away from trees, plants or curtains. Never leave fireplaces unattended. If you have not checked your fire alarm and smoke detectors recently, now is a great time to do so. It is important not to use generators, grills or other Gas powered devices in your home or garage.
• Get sleep. With all that you have on your list to do this holiday, you may think that missing a few hours of sleep will not make a difference. But actually, not getting enough sleep can make you more likely to get sick, and increase your stress level.
• Carry bags with care. If you like to do an all-day shopping trip this time of year, make sure to take care of yourself, too. You do not want to wake up the next morning sore from all the walking and carrying of bags. If you are not careful, carrying heavy bags around all day can hurt your back and joints. If possible, put bags and packages in the car every so often. You do not have to carry them around all day. Take a walking break every once in a while. This is a great time to enjoy the sounds and sights of the holiday season.
We hope that you have a joyous holiday and that some of these tips will keep you safe and healthy well into the New Year! More information about having a healthy and safe holiday is available through the Harlan County Extension office.
Theresa Howard is the Harlan County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.