Tips and tools for happy and health holidays for the whole family
Tips and tools for happy and health holidays for the whole family

Healthy Holidays are Happy Holidays

In the home stretch before a break from school or work for the upcoming holidays, you probably have enough shopping and decorating taken care of so you have a pretty clear mental image of your family celebration. You’re thinking of friends and family laughing and talking, a fire in the fireplace, favorite traditions and smiles on kids’ faces as they open a surprise gift. Odds are, there are no doctor visits, hospital stays or trips to the emergency room in your thoughts right now. Let’s keep it that way.
“Extra travel, less sleep, more activity, flu season, visitors who bring in outside germs, and a lot of other factors make the last two weeks of the year one of the most risky times of the year,” said Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS. “With a little advance planning and knowledge about how to keep your family healthy, you can enjoy the holidays without a visit to the hospital or doctor’s office.”
Use the resources below to make sure you and your friends and family have a fun and safe holiday together.

Clear the Air

If you have young children in the house or others with a cough, try using a humidifier in the bedroom. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and provide a safe way to help relieve a cough. Whether the cough is from dry, heated indoor air or an infection from a cold or the flu, the moist air will help keep your mouth and throat moist and less irritated. Keeping the air in a baby or toddler’s room moist all winter will help cut down on coughs, dry skin and other common winter ailments. 
Moist air is great for everyone in the family, so, if you can, make sure all sleeping areas have a humidifier. Using models with a built-in humidistat, you can make sure the air stays at a comfortable level without having to turn the unit off and on. A humidifier may be especially important when you’re using a fireplace or in extremely cold weather.

Candle Safety

During recent shopping outings, you’ve probably seen lots of beautiful scented candles – and maybe even bought one or two. To help make sure the candles don’t do more than they’re supposed to, make sure they are in sturdy holders that won’t tip over. And, make sure there’s nothing nearby that could catch on fire like greenery, decorations, curtains or paper – there should be at least 12 inches between the candle and anything that can burn. Don’t use candles on a cluttered countertop or table.
Always blow out all candles when you leave a room or go to bed. And, don’t leave children or pets unattended near candles. And, if you give a candle as a gift, include a printed copy of these guidelines with the candle.

O' Christmas Tree!

As beautiful as they are, Christmas trees are also a fire hazard, causing up to $13 million in property damage a year. To avoid a fire, make sure your tree is fresh and you don’t have too many lights plugged in together. Also, keep your tree away from the fireplace and candles. Be sure to add water to live trees every day to keep them from drying out. A dry tree can catch an entire room on fire quickly.

Cook Safe

Food poisoning is one of the worst gifts ever. Make sure your family and guests don’t get more than a tasty snack or holiday meal by following these four steps:
  1. Clean. Wash your hands and countertops often. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and carefully wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards often.
  2. Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate and don’t cross-contaminate. Even with careful washing, germs can still spread from raw foods to ready-to-eat foods.
  3. Cook. Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature. 
  4. Chill. Refrigerate foods promptly and make sure your refrigerator is below 40 degrees. Germs can begin to grow in many foods if left unrefrigerated for as little as two hours (one hour in hot summer weather).
Print this infographic and keep it in your kitchen for a handy guide to food safety.

Count to 10

When Cousin Eddie gets on your last nerve and you want to throw the nearest heavy object at him, take a breath and count to 10. Then, just step away. Go outside or to another room and try to focus on something else. Being “right” isn’t worth upsetting a room filled with friends and family. After the heat of the moment, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and look at things from their perspective. Aunt Mary may talk a lot because she lives alone. Grandma may be asking the same questions over and over because she’s worried about having so many guests in her home. The kids may be bouncing off the walls because all they’ve eaten is sugar cookies. And, Cousin Eddie may just be Cousin Eddie. Try to visit with him in small doses.

Take a Hike

Start a new family tradition of taking a break from the holiday hype and head into the woods. There are thousands of hiking trails in Arkansas, and it’s easy to find one near your holiday gathering. Find a trail that fits your group’s interests and skill level, grab a jacket and head out. Send the kids off to gather as many different types of leaves as they can find, and let the adults have quiet time to talk and enjoy the scenery. 

Sleep Tight

Don’t forget that sleep is an important holiday tradition too. One night of staying up to help Santa put toys together won’t ruin your holidays, but that one night on top of several others with too little sleep may push your body over the edge and cause some unwanted tension in your celebration. If there’s just too much to think about and too many things to do to fall asleep, try these tips for a good night’s sleep.

To learn more, please visit the UAMS Health Library
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Happy holidays and warmest wishes for a happy and healthy 2017 from your friends at UAMS!

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