Be safe over the holidays
By Tim Lipan
American Red Cross Muskegon Office Executive Director
OSCEOLA COUNTY — While everyone is shopping, baking, gift wrapping, decorating and going to parties, the American Red Cross has holiday tips to help make the season a safe one.
1. Prepare vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Build an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares and a tow rope.
2. Drive the sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm. If travel is a must, let someone know the destination, the route being taken to get there and how long it should take to arrive. If the car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along the predetermined route.
3. Help prevent the spread of the flu. Stay home if sick. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, someone should cough or sneeze into their elbow, not their hands.
4. Follow Santa’s fashion lead — dress in layers. When it’s cold outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep a person warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.
5. Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed and monitor safe play. Some may be certified in infant and child CPR.
6. Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If leaving the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. This is important because unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires.
7. Be a lifesaver during the holidays. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should take first aid and CPR/AED training. Visit redcross.org/training for details and to register.
8. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired. If someone plans on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.
9. When the weather outside is frightful, heat the home safely. Never use a stove or oven to heat the home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms.
10. Cut down on heating bills without being a grinch. Get the furnace cleaned and change the filters. Make sure furniture isn’t blocking the heat vents. Close off any rooms not in use and turn off the heat in those rooms. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.
11. Home for the holidays? Travel safely. Check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full. Be well rested and alert. Give full attention to the road — avoid distractions such as cell phones. If someone has car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
12. Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the new year. Get ready now in case someone in the household faces an emergency in 2012.
For more information on how to give, get trained or get involved with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.