The holiday season is upon us, and the Alaska winter along with it. The American Red Cross of Alaska offers some safety tips to prepare you and your family for a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Exposure to cold can cause injury or serious illness, including frostbite and hypothermia. The likelihood of injury or illness depends on such factors as physical activity, clothing, wind, humidity, working and living conditions, and a person's age and general state of health. But we can all be a bit safer with some forethought. Follow these tips to stay safe in cold weather and enjoy your holiday season:
• Holiday traveling and winter can be a dangerous combination. Allow extra time when traveling. Monitor weather conditions carefully and adhere to travel advisories.
• Keep a winter storm survival kit in your car. This should include blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies.
• Designate a driver. When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving.
• Buckle up. During the holiday months, people travel more than ever. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and best way to prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure that all passengers are also wearing safety belts.
• Always be careful with holiday candles. Avoid using candles during parties. Take special care when burning candles and make sure they are never left unattended. Be sure they are kept away from decorations and other combustible materials. Don't leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of children. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits.
• Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check inside and under upholstery and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering. If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
• Keep Christmas trees fresh. Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
• Dress appropriately before going outdoors. The air temperature does not have to be below freezing for someone to experience cold emergencies such as hypothermia and frostbite. Wind speed can create dangerously cold conditions even when the temperature is not that low. If possible, dress in multiple thin layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. Avoid overdressing or overexertion that can lead to heat illness.
• Enroll in a First Aid and CPR course. Although these tips can help prevent an emergency, it is also important to be prepared should an emergency situation arise. (This would also make a wonderful gift!)
• Get your furry friends a special gift. The American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States have teamed up to help people help their pets. Pet First Aid is an important reference guide for anyone with a cat or dog, and be prepared for a medical emergency with a Red Cross Pet first-aid kit.
• Giving the gift of Preparedness is a great way to show you care. Purchasing or putting together 3-day Disaster Supply Kits is a wonderful way to help the friend or family member who ‘knows they should’ but never quite gets around to creating one for themselves. Please view our life-saving products at our Red Cross Store.
Happy Holidays from the Volunteers and Staff of your American Red Cross of Alaska!