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We are well into the peak holiday season, with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and New Year’s ahead. While for most people this is a joyous and fun time of year filled with family, friends and celebration, it can also be a time for a little caution. Here are some holiday safety tips from our team.

Safety on the Road and Traveling

Driving during holiday periods can be more dangerous than normal. Drivers may be in a hurry or be distracted, or there may be ice and snow on the roads. The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) compiles crash statistics on North Carolina’s roads. In 2016 (the latest available data), there were 25,273 crashes reported, with 1,114 happening over the 3-day Christmas holiday period (12/23/16 through 12/25/16); there were 10 deaths statewide; 40% of those deaths were alcohol related.

Staying safe:

  • Avoid distracted driving. Put the mobile device(s) away and drive defensively. Leave plenty of stopping distance and watch the cars around you. Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always use a designated driver. If you are by yourself, call a sober friend, a cab or ride service to get home.
  • Wear your seatbelt, even on short trips. You cannot control what other drivers do, and may be involved in a crash that isn’t your fault. Seatbelts do save lives.
  • Secure children in approved, properly installed car seats. Your local law enforcement agency will help you verify the seat is secure if you are not sure.
  • Have a safety check done on your car before you travel (ask them to check the spare tire, too), and make sure you have a charged cell phone, water and blankets with you in case of emergency.
  • If you are flying and plan to rent a car when you arrive, familiarize yourself with the controls before you drive off the lot. You don’t want to be distracted trying to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers or lights. If snow or ice are expected, make sure there is an ice scraper in the vehicle.
  • Watch the weather. Bridges and overpasses will often freeze before the main highway, and even a small patch of ice can cause you to lose control.

It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you. Make sure to exchange cell numbers so you are able to reach each other in the event of a change. Finally, make certain you remember any necessary medications for your trip. You may have trouble reaching your doctor for a refill over the holiday.

Safe Shopping

Criminals often take advantage of holiday crowds and distracted shoppers/travelers, so be aware of your surroundings and keep a close watch on your valuables.

  • Park in well-lit areas. If the weather is bad, watch for slick spots in parking lots (and on shop floors) so you don’t slip and fall.
  • Keep your handbag close to your body, or place your wallet in an inside/front pocket.
  • If your children have food allergies, use caution when merchants offer free food samples.
  • Lock your car doors, and do not leave anything of value in sight.
  • If you shop online and will not be home when your order(s) is delivered, you may wish to require a signature for delivery so packages are not left on your front porch.

In addition, make sure any gifts you purchase for children are age appropriate, especially for toddlers who love to put things in their mouths!

Safety at Home

As things get busy and we have friends and relatives over to visit, we can also bump into safety issues at home. Here are a few tips for your residence:

  • If you have a live Christmas tree, keep it well watered. You may want to turn off the Christmas lights overnight or when no one is home.
  • Look at the decorations you use to ensure they are safe. If you have pets or small children, you may want to avoid glass ornaments and tinsel.
  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
  • Use caution when climbing a ladder to install decorations. Make sure the ladder is in good condition and placed on level ground for stability.
  • Kitchen fires increase during the holidays. Don’t leave food unattended on the stove, and remember to set the timer when baking those cookies.
  • Avoid chimney fires by having your chimney cleaned by a professional annually. Make sure your flue is open before starting the fire; don’t make the fire too large; and keep a bucket of sand or water handy just in case. If you have a gas fireplace, have it inspected and serviced regularly.
  • Make sure sidewalks and paths are clear of ice, snow or other debris.
  • Position nightlights in strategic spots in guest rooms and hallways to help visitors navigate your home at night.
  • Put food away within an hour after cooking to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Keep your pets away from rich foods, onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolate. Also watch them near poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe. Visit the ASPCA site for a full feature on pet safety during the holidays.
  • If you will be visiting friends or relatives with your children, consider they may not take the same precautions you do, so check for potential hazards.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday.