Christmas trees are, of course, a fire hazard, but the biggest cause of home fires, by far, is cooking, accounting for 20 percent of fires in 2007, the last year for which data is available. Another culprit? Candles. Fire statistics collected in Alberta during the holiday season (December 15 to 31) over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009 showed that candle fires doubled compared to the rest of the year.
Safety tips: Never leave stovetop items unattended, and don’t allow candles to burn in an empty room. When you do light candles, keep them far from the tree and other flammable items, such as wrapping paper. Make sure your holiday lights have been tested by either Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Intertek (ETL Semko)—the packaging will say so. Throw out any sets with cracked bulb sockets or damaged wires. Finally, make sure your Christmas tree is watered daily.
Expectations can run high during the holiday season. There are events to attend, gifts to buy, food to prepare, decorations to put up, people to entertain—all of which requires waiting in lines, spending money and squeezing more into your schedule. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that 38 percent of people experienced elevated stress during the holidays. It’s not just you!
Safety tips: Simplify. Stop accept- ing every invitation and trying to see everyone during the holidays. Otherwise, you’ll burn out. And don’t try to out-dazzle everyone with extravagant dinners, over-the-top decorating and expensive presents. The holiday season shouldn’t feel like a competition. Another useful insight? Start your shopping early. Keep a running list in your wallet or phone of the people for whom you plan to buy gifts. That way, you can take advantage of sales throughout the year and avoid the stress of overspending. Here are some simple tips that can help you reduce your holiday stress.
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You came, you saw, you drank. If you don’t usually overindulge in alcohol, your body is in for a shock: A painful hangover.
Safety tips: Holidays and alcohol seem to go hand in hand. Catherine Hardman, executive director of Choices for Change, an alcohol, drug, and gambling counseling center based in Stratford, Ontario, offers this advice:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones.
- Forget the one-drink-per-hour guideline for preventing hangovers. Though it’s a good way to keep an eye on your holiday drinking, it’s not reliable since people metabolize differently. Hardman states that low-risk drinking guidelines state no more than two standard drinks on any day, and no more than nine per week for women and no more than 14 for men.
- Agree to be the designated driver. “That gives you an out,” says Hardman, “and people also respect that.” Moreover, you’ll have a holiday to remember—for all the right reasons.