The Top Five Christmas Health Risks

The holidays are a season for celebration with loved ones. But if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken, you may find yourself spending your time in the emergency room, rather than around the tree.

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the risk of holiday injuries for yourself and your loved ones. Start by educating yourself on these top five holiday health risks.

  1. Fires
    Those lovely trees people bring into our homes are made of wood, which get even more flammable as the trees dry out. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that from 2009 to 2013, Christmas trees triggered an average 210 home structure fires each year, and compared to other kinds of home fires, those started by Christmas trees led to greater damage and $17.5 million in property damage.

But trees are hardly the only fire risk during the holidays—decorative lighting throughout and outside the home can also lead to fires in the home.

Keep your tree well-watered all season, or even better, get an artificial one. Put out all lights and candles when you go to sleep or leave the house, and check strings of lights for exposed wire before putting them up each year.

  1. Falls
    Getting decorations up can be at least as dangerous as having them out—about 5,800 people are injured in decorating-related falls each holiday season, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Always use a step ladder when putting decorations up—don’t rely on nearby chairs or other substitutes. When working outside, use a sturdy ladder.

  1. Choking
    Toys can be a serious chocking hazard for children–as many as 251,800 toy choking incidents landed children in the emergency room in 2014, according to the CPSC. Reduce the risk by making sure gifts to children are age-appropriate and paying attention to recall announcements.

But toys aren’t the only choking hazard during the holidays—always keep an eye on children near ornaments, lights, and other seasonal decorations, too.

  1. Heart attacks
    It’s no coincidence there’s a 5 percent increase in heart attack deaths in November and December, according to a 2004 study published in Circulation.

It starts with the increased risk caused by cold weather, which constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Then pile on the stress, overindulgence, lack of sleep, and reduction in physical fitness that so often come with the holiday season, and you’ve got a perfect storm. To top it all, people often ignore the symptoms of a heart attack during the holidays to avoid disrupting the fun.

Reduce your risk by wearing warm clothing and keeping your living space well heated. Take extra care to get your sleep, get your exercise, and stick to any heart mediation regimen you’re on during this busy time. And of course, if you suspect you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, don’t wait—seek medical attention immediately.

  1. Traffic accidents
    There’s also an increase in car crashes during the holiday months. Some of the increased risk is due to the decreased daylight hours on the road. But according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts 2015 report, 343 people died in driving accidents on New Year’s Day, 360 on Thanksgiving, and 88 on Christmas in 2013.

To reduce your risk, always have a designated driver if you’re going to drink at a party, and avoid driving on the highest-risk days, when possible.

A Safe Holiday is the Best Holiday

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they’re not without they’re perils. But take precautions to keep your festivities safe and protect your loved ones, and the holidays can still be the merry season they’re intended to be.

How to Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays are a season for family, friends, and fun. But it doesn’t take much for all that packed-in merriment to become overwhelming.

Between all the parties, the travel, the treats, and just plain disruption to your routine, self-care can quickly fall to the wayside—leaving you feeling tired, stressed, and maybe even guilty.

But even in the midst of the winter whirlwind, you can stay both happy and healthy this holiday season. Follow these tips to enjoy the season without sacrificing self-care:

Be realistic
December is no time to jumpstart a new diet. In fact, depriving yourself in the face of so much temptation can lead to binges—which usually means eating even more junk than you would have in the first place.

Instead, let yourself indulge—in moderation. Try to use the 90/10 rule—eat healthy 90 percent of the time, and treat yourself the other 10 percent.

Plan your food
Take advantage of those non-festivity meals like lunch to pack in the veggies and other nutrients you aren’t getting at parties. You can also preempt binging on cookies at a party by eating a healthy light meal or snack before heading out.

As much as possible, maintain a normal eating schedule. This will help you prevent those moments of starvation where you want to eat everything in sight.

Bake smarter
When you’re bringing a dish to share at an event, make it a healthy one that you’ll enjoy eating. That way, you know you’ve got at least one guilt-free tasty snack available when the snacking starts.

When you bake cookies or other treats, experiment with healthy swaps in your recipe, such as using fruit purees instead of butter. You might be surprised by what you don’t miss.

Go small
Use tricks to help yourself eat smarter without feeling deprived. Taking small plates at the buffet table will prevent you from taking too much at once. It also helps if you take generous portions of healthy dishes, and smaller portions for treats. 

Pace yourself
You can also help yourself eat less by munching slowly and spreading out your food enjoyment. Give yourself time between trips to the buffet, too—it can take your body about 20 minutes after eating to alert your mind that you’re full.

Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water can be hard when you’re out of your normal routine, and especially if you’re traveling. But when you get thirsty, your body can misinterpret the signals as hunger and cause you to overeat. Avoid this my making it a point to drink more water during the holidays. 

If you need more incentive, staying hydrated can have some other benefits you’re sure to enjoy during this season, too, such as reducing fatigue, boosting your immune system, and keeping your skin looking great for those holiday photos.

Say no
Whether it’s an offer for a cookie, a party, or a gift circle, you’re always allowed to opt out with a simple “no, thank you.”

Limits and boundaries can be especially important during the holiday season, as the amount of events (and treats) on your plate can escalate quickly. If you stretch yourself beyond your limits, you’ll quickly become stressed and unhappy. Only say “yes” to the things that will enhance your enjoyment of the season.

Schedule fitness time
Regular exercise isn’t just good for the number on the scale—it also helps you manage stress and feel better. Get your workouts in during the chaotic time of holiday parties and travel by blocking it out on your calendar. Working out first thing in the morning can prevent scheduling conflicts.

Even if it’s too snowy out to go for a run, there’s plenty of ways to get a workout in. Find one you enjoy or try this no-equipment, do-anywhere circuit from the Mayo Clinic.

Set a challenge
If you need more motivation to keep your fitness on track, sign up for a race or other fitness challenge in January. The challenge will help you keep your eye on the prize, rather than the snooze button.

Get your zzz’s
It can be hard to catch enough sleep every night when there’s always another party to go to, and in the morning there’s still work, kids, pets, and the rest of normal life demanding our attention. Pace yourself, and try to stay as close to your normal sleep pattern if you can.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed

The holidays should be a time for fun with friends and family. Don’t let the demands (or the temptations) of the season become a source of stress, guilt, or extra pounds. With a few simple tricks to stay in control of your holiday activity, you can enjoy all the perks of the season without overwhelming yourself.

Happy holidays!

Keeping Out Of The Emergency Room This Christmas

Unfortunately, emergency rooms get very busy at the holiday season.  No matter where you live, the chances of you or someone in your family having to go to the hospital increase around Christmas time, specifically because of seasonal and environmental changes.  Keep these few tips in mind to prevent any unwanted illness or injury at this festive time of the year.



When you climb up on a ladder to reach the roof of your house, do be careful!  People fall off of ladders very often while trying to decorate their homes.  Before you ever set foot onto your ladder, check it to be sure that it still seems fully operational and not rickety.  Never climb a ladder backwards; always face the rungs while you climb.  Do not skip rungs, and do not stand on the very top of a ladder.  Last but certainly not least, place your ladder on the ground—not on top of a table, shelf or other surface.  A little ladder safety goes a long way while you are decorating for the holidays!



Prepare yourself for weather situations in any Christmastime climate.  In the Southern Hemisphere, remember that temperatures could climb during Christmas, and an afternoon spent in the heat of the sun can potentially lead to sun stroke or heat exhaustion.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the reverse is true:  spending too much time outdoors during Christmas has the chance to lead to frostbite or hypothermia if you are not careful.  Even if temperature extremes are not a problem, weather-related issues can still crop up, including sunburn or slipping and falling on icy surfaces.  Always exercise caution when heading outdoors during the holidays, and watch the kids, too.



Although it is less common in a modern world where candles are not hung directly on the boughs of Christmas trees, fires are still a potential holiday danger.  Natural and artificial trees both have the ability to catch fire, particularly from a malfunctioning string of overheating or sparking lights.  To prevent your natural tree from catching fire as easily, remember to keep it watered every day.  For any tree, do not overload the branches with lights, and try to use LED lights wherever possible.  Similarly, be careful of candles that you have lit during the holiday season.  If you live in a cold climate and will be using a radiator or space heater, take care not to place any furniture, clothing, or drapes too close to the heating mechanism.



People do not often have to go to the emergency room due to overeating, but every so often, it does happen.  If you have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, severe food allergy, or gastrointestinal issues, then you may be more at risk for a food-related Christmas hospital trip.  Try to limit your sugar and fat intakes throughout the season, and particularly in a given day.  There may be seven different kinds of Christmas goodies in the kitchen, but that does not mean that you have to try them all in one go!




Last but not least, presents have a nasty habit of sending holiday revellers to the emergency room.  The trouble starts when the gift is being purchased.  Holiday shopping is responsible for a lot of auto-mobile crashes every year, because shoppers tend to be in such a hurry and may be much less careful than they would be at other times of the year.  After you have given the gift, it may continue to cause problems for its recipient.  Particularly if you give a gift to a child, be careful to choose something appropriate to the child’s age and abilities.  Bicycles, trampolines, and toys with small parts that can be easily swallowed are all known culprits of Christmas trips to the emergency room.  If you give a child something like a bicycle, be responsible and give a helmet along with it.  And if the family gets a pool for the holidays, remember to always keep an eye on the little ones.



If you keep these tips in mind, you will have a smooth, healthy, and happy holiday season, and your family will be much safer as well.  Do not let injury and illness put a damper on your Christmas!

Fundraising In The Holiday Season

It can be very difficult to raise money through donations during a time of the year when everyone seems to be strapped for cash, but never fear!  Remember these few tips, and you will have no trouble with your next holiday season fundraising project.


Enlist Friends and Family

Sure, they may not be paid to do this, but your friends and family can always be a valuable asset in spreading the word about your project or organization.  When you feel like you are not able to reach enough people on your own, ask those who are closest to you if they wouldn’t mind telling others about what it is you do, and why donations are so necessary at this time of the year.  Chances are, someone you know will know someone who can pitch in.  Never underestimate the power of word of mouth!  Especially now in our technologically advanced times, it is even easier for you to reach friends through social media who can then reach their friends—and so on.  Networking has never been so stress-free!


Stay on Task Everywhere

Going grocery shopping?  Consider taking along some pamphlets to hand out while you’re standing in the long checkout lines that seem to pop up during the holiday season.  Eating lunch out somewhere?  Leave a card or a small leaflet along with your tip for the wait staff or owners to peruse.  Sending holiday cards to your friends and family?  Don’t forget to mention how great things have gone with your organization this year.  No matter where you go, you can find an opportunity for spreading the goal of your non-profit organization or project, and you may potentially make donating contacts just about anywhere!  Remember to follow rules and laws when you do this, however, as asking for donations may be considered soliciting depending on the way you approach the task.


Bank on Charitable Sentiments

During the holidays, people may have tighter budgets than they usually do, but they also tend to feel more generous.  There is nothing wrong with cashing in on the sentimentality of good people at the holidays.  Share some stories from your clients or those you have helped (and remember to get permission to use names or likenesses!), and you are sure to see an increase in donations.  Tugging on the heartstrings is always a good way to gather new donations for your cause.  You can also reconnect at this time of year with those who have donated in the past, in the hopes that the spirit of the season might inspire them to give even more this time around!



Although it may seem like a daunting task to convince people to donate to your cause during the tumultuous holiday season, following these few tips will help you stay on top of your donation quotas with ease.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, talk with strangers you meet during your day, and play to the sentimentalities of new and recurring donors as well.  Good luck with your fundraising endeavors, and happy holidays!