Monday, November 30, 2009


Stay safe this holiday season

Thanksgiving is past, but the winter holiday season has only begun and family get-togethers and parties will continue to increase.

And so will the potential for avoidable mistakes that can have devastating consequences.

Working in the busy Backus Hospital Emergency Department and Trauma Center, I’ve seen firsthand what can happen – from food poisoning to drunken and distracted driving.

Here are some tips to follow, courtesy of the Emergency Nurses Association Injury Prevention Institute:

• After holiday parties, wrap leftovers tightly, and keep them well-refrigerated or frozen to avoid food poisoning.
• If you are having a holiday party, monitor the alcohol consumption of your guests. Be sure to provide non-alcoholic
• Be prepared to call a cab for anyone who may not be safe to drive.
• Reduce the number, size and frequency of alcoholic beverages you drink and serve at holiday occasions.
• Never get behind the wheel of a moving vehicle after having consumed any alcohol.
• Avoid traveling after midnight, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, since that is the time that most motor vehicle crashes occur.
• Drive defensively.
• Keep to your normal sleep schedule. Avoid driving when fatigued.
• Always wear your safety belt and make sure that all adult and child passengers are properly restrained.
• Prevent holiday fires by using only nonflammable decorations, inspecting holiday lights, and using only those that are UL-approved.
• Keep Christmas trees well-watered and away from heat sources so that they do not become dried out.
• Avoid using portable heaters. If they are absolutely necessary, keep them in open spaces, away from anything that might catch fire and be sure to turn them off before you go to bed, leave the house or leave a room for a long time.
• If you have children and have out-of -town guests staying in your home, provide those guests with child-proof place to keep any medications they might be taking.
• If you have relatives staying with you, particularly elderly relatives, encourage them to bring a list of medications they are taking, a list of medical conditions and contact information for their doctors.
• When buying gifts, remember that toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard for younger children. If it will fit through a toilet paper roll it is too small to let a child play with.

Gillian Mosier is a registered nurse and manager of the Backus Trauma Program. This column should not replace the advice of your physician. To comment on this or other Healthy Living columns, go to the Healthy Living blog at or email the columnists at

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