- - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Along with the joys of the season, the holidays call us to shop at busier than usual stores; attend special parties and events; as well as travel for extended amounts of time with planes, trains and automobiles to visit family and friends. It is an eventful time and while we want to feel our best and enjoy – there are added health risks of picking up an illness from someone else or a surface nearby. And too, along with the seasonal colds, flu bugs, loss of sleep, demands of to-do’s, there are holiday safety concerns to watch out for as we shop, travel and celebrate. Here are some steps you can take to help stay healthy and safe while jingling all the way.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: Protection Key for a Healthy and Safe Holiday Season

Protecting Against Germs: While we cannot protect ourselves against every germ, we can be conscious of what we come in contact with and wise about what we do.

Wash your hands –Our fingers can transmit germs to our nose, mouth, eyes, and foods we eat. Figuratively, they can be classified as weapons of mass infection or contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, good hand washing is one of the most effective methods to prevent getting sick and spreading germs to others

Be sure to wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, caring for someone who is sick, or blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. When shopping, remember that it’s not just carts and retail items that get handled by lots of people, but also currency, credit cards, signature pens and pads. The same holds true if you are traveling on airplanes or mass transit systems.

Effective germ removal entails wetting your hands with water, applying soap, scrubbing for 20 seconds all nooks and crannies including between fingers and underneath nails, rinsing, and drying.

Sharing is not caring when it comes to germs. At get-togethers, avoid sharing glasses and utensils. And, too, at food spreads, utilize clean utensils instead of your hands.

Stay home when not feeling well. Whether it is a cold or flu, or you are overly tired, strengthen your immune system by resting and stay home. You are not only protecting yourself but also others.

Fires: The U.S. Fire Administration reports the incidence of daily fires increases during the holiday season due to the cold weather (requiring heating) as well as holiday customs and traditions.

Space heaters—Never leave a space heater unattended; keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn; do not place them on tables or furniture; and read warning labels.

Outlets—Do not overload outlets; replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords; follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an item in; and avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

Decorations—Keep decorations away from open flames; turn off lights and decorations when sleeping or leaving the home; and water fresh Christmas trees daily. If you are burning candles, be sure to carefully monitor the surroundings and the flame; and extinguish them when leaving the space where they are placed.

Check on carbon monoxide and smoke detectors—Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home; and batteries should be tested every month and replaced at least once a year.

Brisk, Cold Weather: Exposure to cold weather conditions can cause hypothermia (a dangerous condition where body temperatures drop) and frostbite (injury due to freezing of the skin and underlying tissues).

When it is freezing, limit time outdoors to less than 10 minutes as much as possible (cabin fever may warm us up in this cold)

Warm our body from the inside with hot liquids (e.g. soups, tea, coffee).

Dress appropriately by wearing multiple layers of loose clothing; cover your ears, head, face, hands and feet

Keep dry with water repellant items and remove wet clothing immediately. And pay special attention to snow or other precipitation getting under our sleeves or into our boots.

Medications: Every day, approximately 160 children go to the emergency room as a result of accidental medicine overdoses. And as our homes fill up with family and friends who are visiting, make sure that they keep medications out-of-reach from children.

Toys: The holiday season brings merriment to our kids and puts a twinkle in their eyes with toys, toys, and more toys. However, some of those fun-filled toys can pose dangers.

Pay attention to age recommendations and choose age appropriate toys as well as review all warnings.

In younger children, steer clear from toys with small parts (they can pose a choking risk); watch out for toys that are stuffed with beans or pellets in infants (they can spill out and end up in your baby’s mouth); and discard plastic wrappings immediately.

In children under 8 years of age, make sure that there are no sharp points or edges from materials such as metal or glass.

Vaccinations: Every year, the seasonal flu infects millions of Americans, sends hundreds of thousands to the hospital and emergency rooms, and can kill tens of thousands. Children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable to complications. The flu shot is our most effective method to prevent falling prey to the influenza virus and it is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. If you haven’t already, make sure to get your flu shot.

And, too, if you are 65 years of age or older, make sure to speak to your health care provider about getting the Pneumococcal vaccine. It protects against a number of different bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, and ear and bloodstream infections—conditions that can require treatment in the hospital and can kill.

Alcohol: While it is always important to moderate alcohol intake, it is especially important at this time of the year where there are more opportunities—holiday parties, work get-togethers, and celebrations—to drink.

Set limits on how many drinks you will have for the night. By creating a goal, you will be more cognizant of how much you are consuming.

If you have had a drink, don’t drive. Period.

If you rode with someone you know is drinking and you also had a drink – do not get into the vehicle – make other arrangements for a ride home with someone who has not had alcohol.

When planning a party, make sure to have non-alcoholic drinks; ensure safe transportation (taxi, Uber ride, or other designated driver system); and designate a host that will not be drinking.

Do not mix or drink alcohol and energy drinks. The high-energy caffeinated drinks can potentially disrupt your heart’s rhythm and place your life at risk.

Pets: During the holiday season, there are some necessary steps we must take to keep our pets safe.

Christmas tree—place in a corner and securely anchor it to avoid falling or tipping if your pet decides to brush up against it or jump on it; hang that sparkly tinsel out of reach of your pet (if ingested it can cause blockage of their intestines and require surgical removal); and avoid lights on the lower branches (pets can get tangled, burned, and even shocked).

Keep holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe away from pets—they are poisonous to animals if ingested

Never leave lighted candles unattended—they can burn our pets or get knocked over from an overzealous wagging tail

The Smells of the Holidays: While you may enjoy the smell of pine, fir and cinnamon, remember too that for some people, holiday aromas may present a serious health risk. Decorations that fill your home with holiday scents can jump-start nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose – while being especially dangerous for some with asthma. It is important to be sensitive about this fact for you, your family and guests.

The holidays can be supercharged and it is important to be wise and not just “let go” in the spirit of joining the celebrations. Keep a healthy, watchful eye on all the travels, trimmings, gatherings, glitter, goodies, smells, added demands and, yes, safe boundaries. And, making time to relax and enjoy — should be on your list, every day. Taking these steps – along with maintaining restful sleep, staying hydrated and active – will help to keep your spirits and holidays bright. Warmest wishes to you and yours for a healthy, safe and joyful holiday!!

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