I love the holidays, so it makes me feel like a Grinch to write about all the bad things that can and do happen! It’s good to take a moment and remind ourselves of what we can do to prevent our holiday celebrations from becoming a disaster.

Many of us incorporate fireworks, candles, and incense into our holiday decorations and ritual. Humans have celebrated with fire for thousands of years. But this year, the Red Cross estimates that this holiday season there will be close to 50,000 home fires that result in more than 500 deaths, 2500 injuries and over $550 million in property damage. Candles are a top cause of these fires, and safety experts recommend keeping candles at least 3 feet away from flammable items and always snuffing them out when leaving a room. Another fire hazard is a dried-out natural Christmas tree or other dried natural greenery. Please keep such greenery and natural trees well-watered and away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, and radiators. A third fire hazard is electric wires. If we enjoy having beautiful bright lights at home, we should make sure that light strings and other decorations are in good shape, with no frayed cords. We need to follow manufacturers’ instructions for light strings and extension cords. Firefighters advise unplugging indoor and outdoor holiday lights before leaving home or going to sleep, and remind us that now is a good time to make sure smoke alarms are working and plentiful.

If fires aren’t scary enough, we also have to watch out for falls, cuts, strained backs and other injuries that will send over 15,000 people to the hospital between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Some holiday items are especially dangerous for children and pets. Keep breakable decorations away from them, and remove their access to traditional holiday plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettias. Adults who are putting up or taking down holiday decorations should use caution and a sturdy ladder - not a chair - to reach high spots. Those of you in snowy places know not to carry packages so large that they impair your ability to navigate snow and ice. Our chiropractors and massage therapists here at the A.R.E. Health Center and Spa remind everyone to use proper lifting techniques to protect the back when lifting heavy boxes.

Finally - ‘tis the season for parties, and many festivities include alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, the holidays are also the most dangerous weeks for drunk driving, with a drunk driving accident rate 3 times higher than the rest of the year. Please don’t drink and drive, and don’t let friends drink after driving. Increased awareness of drunk driving and the availability of designated drivers and ride-sharing services has helped to decrease the overall rate of drunk driving compared to ten or twenty years ago.

Let’s be mindful of preventing seasonal accidents so that all of us have happy, healthy, and safe holidays!