The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, to celebrate life, to be grateful, and to reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate – and safeguard – the gift of health.
Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and safety during the season:
Eat Healthy and Be Active
It can be challenging to eat healthy and stay active during the holidays. Healthy eating is all about balance and moderation. Holiday parties and big family meals may tempt us away from our healthy eating habits. Allow yourself to have your favorite foods but stick to smaller servings and balance them with healthier options. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods and drinks.
Staying active can help you keep a healthy weight during the holiday season. Look for opportunities to work physical activities into your holiday: Go for a stroll after a family meal, take a walk at the mall or dance to your favorite holiday music. Aim to get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity. For example, that could be at least 20 minutes a day or 30 minutes five days a week. It’s important to move more and sit less.
Practice Food Safety
Take simple steps to protect your family’s health when you prepare and serve holiday meals.
- Wash your hands and work surfaces before, during, and after preparing food, and before eating.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated during preparation.
- Cook food at the right internal temperature to kill harmful germs. Use a food thermometer to check.
- Refrigerate perishable foods, including leftovers, within two hours of buying or cooking.
For detailed food safety tips, including reminders for pregnant women, click here.
Get Your Flu Vaccination
Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is more than just a “bad cold.” It can result in serious health complications like pneumonia, bacterial infections, hospitalization, or death.
CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get vaccinated now if they have not already been vaccinated this season. If you plan to be around infants or pregnant family members/friends, it’s especially important you get vaccinated.
Putnam County Health Department offers flu vaccines by appointment and at scheduled clinics in the community. You can call 304.757.2541 to schedule or click here to find an upcoming clinic.
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and to keep kids and adults healthy, especially during the winter months. Evidence shows handwashing can help prevent 1 in 5 respiratory illnesses like the cold or flu, so understanding how and when to wash hands is critical for staying healthy. Click here for detailed handwashing tips and educational resources from the CDC.
If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Cold Weather Safety and Home Heating
Outdoor activities during cold weather can expose you to several safety hazards, but you can take steps to be prepared while getting the exercise you need.
Start by wearing warm clothing, a wind-resistant coat or jacket, mittens, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots. To protect from hypothermia, don’t forget to dress in layers. Additional safety precautions when participating in outdoor recreation include:
- Always carry a cell phone
- Work slowly when doing outside chores
- If you’re high-risk for a heart attack, don’t shovel snow
- Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches
- Take along a buddy and an emergency kit
Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Install a battery-operated or battery backup CO detector where it will awaken your family at night if the alarm is triggered. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
Coping with Holiday Stress
Holidays can present unique stressors for people of all ages – adults, teens, and even children. Feeling emotional, anxious, fatigued, or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions. Learning healthy ways to cope with situations that trigger holiday stress and getting the right support can help reduce stressful feelings and symptoms.
Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. Stay safe and healthy this winter by planning ahead. Whether you’re traveling across town or around the world, ensure that your trip is safe:
- Get your car ready for cold weather before winter arrives.
- Don’t drink and drive – and don’t let others drive when they’ve been drinking.
- Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle, and always buckle your child in the car using a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for their weight, height, and age.
Before traveling abroad, check out health and safety risks at your destination. Don’t forget to get needed vaccinations at least 4 to 6 weeks before you leave to ensure protection by the time you travel. CDC’s latest traveler’s health updates include information about measles and malaria. For more information on traveling abroad, click here.
Anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots. Blood clots can form in your legs during travel because you are sitting still in a confined space for long periods of time. Protect yourself during the holiday travel season by moving your legs frequently, knowing the symptoms of blood clots and when to get help and if you are at risk for blood clots talk to your doctor.
Injuries can happen anywhere, and many occur around holidays. Take these steps to avoid common injuries:
- Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations.
- Leave fireworks to the professionals.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent the most serious types of head and brain injuries.
- Prevent chain saw injuries by wearing proper protective clothing and glasses. Always operate, adjust, and maintain chain saws according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is 100% preventable. Don’t use generators, grills, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.
Holiday safety precautions are also important for the furry friend in the home. Click here for tips and important reminders to protect their health, too.