December 2010 Safety Tip

Food, Fire, Falls

Everyone has traditions for celebrating holidays. These traditions often include special food, decorations, parties and guests. There are a few precautions we can take to ensure an enjoyable and safe holiday season.

Food Poisoning – Four basic food handling precautions can prevent food poisoning; Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.

  • Clean – Wash hands, surfaces and cooking utensils in hot soapy water after each preparation step. Disinfect cutting boards ( don’t use wooden cutting boards for raw meat) and counters with a solution of bleach made by diluting regular household bleach( one ounce of bleach to nine ounces of water). Spray the bleach solution on the surface and let it set for one minute and then wash in hot soapy water.
  • Separate - Keep raw meat/poultry/ fish and their juices away from vegetables, breads and desserts. Refrigerated raw meats should be stored in leak proof containers in the refrigerator. Raw meats should be stored below prepared food or fresh vegetable to prevent accidental contamination.
  • Cook - Cook food to the correct temperature. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature in the thickest portion of the meat without touching the bone. Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 Deg F and poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 185 Deg F. Many cookbooks have temperature charts for various types of meats, poultry and fish refer to these charts for details. When stuffing meat the temperature of the stuffing must also reach a safe temperature, a minimum of 165 Deg F.
  • Chill – foods should be refrigerated or frozen right away after shopping. Food should be refrigerated until ready to prepare or cook. Leftover food should be refrigerated within a couple of hours. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture food safety hotline can be found at

Fire - The use of candles, fire places, extension cords and lights for decoration contribute to an increase in fires during the holiday season.

  • Never leave any open flame unattended, don’t use the fire place to burn wrapping paper or wreaths or evergreens. These items can generate smoke and fumes that are dangerous to your health or cause the fire to flare out of control.
  • Candles should be carefully placed so that they are not near combustible materials, nor located where pets or children could knock them over or touch them.
  • Lights and lighted decoration should be rated by an independent testing laboratory, like Under Writers Laboratory (UL). Care should be used when mounting not to damage the wiring. Be sure all wiring and extension cords are in good condition and rated for the purpose. Always turn lights and lighted decorations off when leaving the house or before going to sleep.
  • Use care when emptying ashtrays to ensure that there are no smoldering cigarette or cigar butts.

Falls - Hanging decorations and lights often requires the use of a ladder.

  • Use good ladder safety when using ladders for your decorations. This includes remembering not to stand on the top two rungs of a step ladder and keeping your belt buckle between the side rails of the ladder.
  • When using a straight ladder or extension ladder have at least three feet or three rungs over the edge of the surface you will step on to, such as a roof.
  • Remember to have the correct angle to the ladder, bring the ladder out one foot for every four feet of height.
  • Never use aluminum ladders near electricity, such as over power lines. Use a ladder or step stool and not a chair, table or counter to gain the height needed to hang decorations.
  • Extension cords, loose rugs or runners; changes in the layout of furniture or the addition of items for decorating may create trip hazards that can result in falls.
    Visitors may not be familiar with the house layout, so be sure to keep travel pathways clear and well lighted.
  • Provide nightlights or flashlights for your guests to help them see where they are going at night.
  • Keep the fun in the holidays plan ahead and manage the stress of the season by getting plenty of rest and not doing more than is reasonable.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

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