Seasonal Safety is No Accident

by RANDAL C. HILL-

Whether you are getting up in years or are taking care of someone who already is, here are some holiday hints to ensure that the Christmas season is a happy and safe one for all concerned.

Decorating. One in four Americans over 65 suffers a fall each year;
many of these injuries arise from Christmastime decorating mishaps. If
you’re going to need a ladder, have someone stabilize it for you. Consider
downsizing to a smaller, easily managed tree and keeping decorations
at eye level or below.

Trees. Every natural Christmas tree, especially a dry one, is a
potential fire hazard, so keep them watered. LED lights don’t
get hot to the touch and are more energy-efficient than the
incandescent ones.

Cooking. Many golden-agers enjoy fixing meals and
desserts during the holidays, but cooking accidents are the
No.1 cause of fires during these festive times. Keep a close eye
on food cooking on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. Have
a fire extinguisher handy. Turkey fryers are not recommended
for home use, since they cause many burns and injuries.

Food preparation. To avoid food poisoning, make sure to wash hands frequently
when handling raw food, and use separate cutting boards for raw meat. Meat should
be cooked to the proper temperature with the aid of an oven thermometer. Be sure
to refrigerate leftovers within two hours of being served.

Lighting. Never overload outlets with too many extension cords. Make sure
pathways are well-lit at night.

Walkways. Keeping pathways free of boxes, cords and
decorations will significantly reduce the likelihood of
tripping.

Shopping. As the season approaches, parking lots become
more crowded—and potentially more dangerous. When driving,
be on the lookout for pedestrians, small children and distracted
drivers. The ideal time to shop (especially with the elderly) is
earlier in the day during the week, before the crowds arrive.
Be sure to stow purchased packages out of sight in the car
trunk, and always lock your vehicle.

Traveling by car. Highway accidents abound during
the holidays due to increased traffic, people driving too
fast and impairment due to drugs and alcohol. Make sure
to designate a sober driver after a party, and tuck the cell
phone away until you arrive. Leave early so you don’t rush.

Relaxing. Heart attacks and other heart-related issues spike
during the holiday season, so it’s a good idea to consider scaling
back on activities that may overwhelm some seniors. Encourage
younger family members to help out around the house. Everyone, oldsters included,
should remember to keep making healthy food choices, stay hydrated and go easy
on the booze.

Gifts. Thinking of some practical presents for those special family folks?
Consider plug-in night lights, non-slip mats, slippers with sole grips and bathroom
handrails.

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