Emergency Preparedness at the Holidays
While you are busy wrapping gifts, decorating your home, or preparing an elaborate meal for your extended family, it is important to protect yourself from danger. With everything else we are thinking about during the holiday season, emergency preparedness tends to take the backseat. And it shouldn’t. The National Safety Council explains, “Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes.”
In addition to your regular emergency preparedness plans, the holiday season has its own reasons for emergency preparedness. FEMA writes, “Every year, the winter season brings potential snow, ice, and cold temperatures which have an impact on safety, travel, and holiday celebrations.” Every holiday season, car accidents, fires, and personal fall injuries spike. That’s why this month’s newsletter is focused on emergency preparedness at the holidays. We want all of our readers to have a happy and safe holiday.
Emergency Preparedness for Holiday Travels
If you plan to drive to visit family or friends during the holidays, you can take steps to prepare for your vehicle before your adventure. Winter weather is hard on vehicles, so it is important to have your car serviced before any trip. Ready.govrecommends taking your vehicle to the mechanic to check the following:
Battery and ignition system
Fuel and air filters
Heater and defroster
Lights and flashing hazard lights
Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level
Additionally, it is critical to pack an emergency supply kit for your vehicle. Accidents can happen at any time and any place. But, if you are in an accident during your holiday travels, it may take longer for help to arrive. An emergency supply kit for your vehicle with items such as blankets and cell phone chargers will be a lifesaver. For a full list of items to put in your vehicle’s emergency supply kit, see the December DIY Feature.
Not only do you need to make sure your car is safe, but you should also make sure you are safe to drive. Unfortunately, many holiday car accidents are the fault of poor choices by the driver. The National Safety Council reports, “In 2017, 329 people died on New Year's Day, 463 on Thanksgiving Day and 299 on Christmas Day. Alcohol impairment was involved in about a third of the fatalities.” Avoid drunk driving, distracted driving, or drowsy driving this holiday season.
Emergency Preparedness Around the Home
One of the reasons the holiday season feels festive is because we make our homes festive. We decorate the inside and outside of homes to the joy and delight of kids and adults alike. Unfortunately, all the holiday decorating comes with many safety hazards. As the National Safety Council explains, “Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season.”
For example, one study found “13,000 people are seen each year for accidents related to holiday decorations” with “5,800 accidents occur[ing] when people fall putting up decorations during the holiday season.” Additionally, “about 2,000 people every winter are treated for lacerations, sprains, and more due to tripping over extension cords.”
When you are putting up lights and holiday decorations, make sure you are making safe choices. Choose the right ladder for the decorating job and make sure you use it correctly. And be sure to place extension cords out of the way, so they are not tripping hazards.
Don’t forget to practice emergency preparedness specifically for those who can’t, such as young children or pets. For instance, don’t place breakable ornaments on the lower part of your Christmas tree and avoid decorating with poisonous plants (i.e., mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, and amaryllis).
Fire Safety Tips
You might have noticed that we didn’t talk about fire dangers in the previous section. That’s because emergency preparedness reminders covering Christmas trees and fire hazards needs its own section. Why? Well, consider these alarming statistics from the National Fire Protection Association.
“Between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 780 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.”
We shouldn’t risk fire damage to our homes just because we love all the holiday decor. You can enjoy holiday decorations as long as you stay fire smart. Since there are numerous fire hazards beyond simply having dried out Christmas trees, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to protect your home from fire this holiday season.
Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly.
Choose flame resistant or flame-retardant decorations.
Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors.
Replace broken or worn light strands.
Choose clips over nailing or stapling light cords.
Don’t leave the kitchen when you are cooking.
Turn off all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving your home.
Blow out candles before going to bed.
Place candles away from decorations.
Place your tree and any other decorations a safe distance from heat sources, such as fireplaces.
If you love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, there are things you can do to protect against a Christmas tree fire. The National Safety Council recommends, “If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, remember to water it and remove it from your home when it is dry.” Two of the most common reasons for Christmas tree fires are placing a tree too close to a heat source and electrical problems from something like a worn light strand.
Winter Weather Prep for Your Home
You should also take steps to prepare your home from the winter holidays. A little preparation will go a long way to protecting your home and family against harsh winter weather. Start by making sure your heating system is operating correctly. If necessary, have it serviced. You don’t want to spend your holidays inside a frosty house. You should also make sure your fireplace is working properly. Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected before it is used each winter. Along with these routine maintenance checks, you should also make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.
Protecting Your Home from Break-Ins
Just re-watch the holiday classic Home Alone, and you’ll remember why it is also important to protect your homes from break-ins during the holiday season. The news source WCNC reports, “Police say crime rates spike between Thanksgiving and New Years as thieves target shoppers. Police say not only do people tend to carry more cash around this time of the year, but thieves know cars and homes are full of gifts.”
You can protect yourself, your home, and your presents safe this holiday season by following these tips:
Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you are traveling.
Don’t make it appear like you are away from home. Invest in automated lights and put your mail on hold.
Don’t leave presents in plain sight. Keep wrapped gifts away from windows or other places where they can be easily seen.
With more people getting packages delivered during the holidays, porch pirating is becoming a big issue. Invest in a doorbell camera system or secure dropbox.
Put outdoor lights on a timer.
Consider adding an intruder alarm or home security system to your home.
Finally, don’t post about your holiday travel plans online. In today’s age, we know where everyone is all the time. But ADT Home Security suggests, “Keep your travel plans off Facebook. No matter how small and secure your friend’s list is, it’s a good idea not to broadcast it to the world that you’re traveling during the holidays.”
Why Water Storage is Always an Important Part of Emergency Preparedness
Since winter weather and blizzards can knock out power and power and utilities, it is critical that families have enough water to help them survive these harsh conditions. Winter weather can leave you stuck in one location for a lengthy period of time, which is why FEMA recommends you “have at least a three-days’ supply of non-perishable food and water for your family.” The Waterfull Barrel stores 30 gallons of emergency drinking water, which is enough to sustain a family of four for seven days.
Last Minute Gift Idea – Gift Preparedness with a Waterfull Barrel!
If you are looking for a last-minute gift, there is no better choice than a Waterfull Barrel. A Waterfull Barrel will ensure your loved one has emergency fresh water to drink when the need arises. It holds 1 gallon of water per person for 7 days for a family of four.
DIY: What to Include in Your Vehicle’s Emergency Kit
It is always important to keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle, but it is especially important during the winter months. 17 percent of all vehicle crashes occur during winter conditions. Since it may take longer for emergency first responders to reach you in winter weather, an emergency supply kit can make all the difference.
Here are the items you should include in your vehicle’s emergency kit:
Cell phone charger for your vehicle
Cat litter (or sand) for tire traction
First aid kit
Warm weather essentials such as gloves, a coat, and boots
There Must Be A Better Way! Hurricane Inspires Better Emergency Water Storage Container
Read about what inspired Waterfull’s inventor and founder, Howard Murray, to create the barrel and how Mold In Graphic Systems has worked to meet Waterfull’s unique branding needs, including the barrel’s emergency use instructions which must stay intact for the barrel’s lifetime. Click here for the full story.