Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays should be a time when everyone can focus on family, friends and safe celebrations, not medical emergencies. Emergency physicians have suggestions to avoid a trip to the emergency department this holiday season.

Food Poisoning 

Food poisoning can result from improper handling, cooking or storage. Leftovers are good for three to four days at most, when refrigerated properly. Avoid placing cooked food or fresh produce on a cutting board or other surface that touched raw turkey. Do not wash raw turkey or other meats, the CDC recommends, as that can spread bacteria around the sink and surrounding area.  


There are about 15,000 people who go to the emergency department every year with a holiday decorating injury, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Falls and back injuries are common reasons patients end up in the emergency department this time of year. Before climbing onto a rooftop or trying to reach any elevated surface, review ladder safety tips and ensure you have a spotter to avoid a nasty fall.

Fire Emergencies

If a grease fire starts in the kitchen, don’t throw water on it because that can cause the flames to spread. If a fire starts in the oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat. Be extra cautious when deep frying a turkey—make sure the bird is fully thawed and you cook it outside in a cleared, contained space.

Candles and hot lights should be kept away from curtains and other fire hazards. Turn off the indoor and outdoor lights, and blow out any candles, before going to sleep at night. Do not leave wrapping paper and other flammable items near the fireplace. 

Safe Toys

When it comes to gift giving, keep these toy safety tips in mind and avoid choking hazards from small parts, button batteries, magnets, and other potentially dangerous but common features.

Knife-related Injuries

Preparing a large meal can be stressful, take your time to avoid nicks and cuts from knives or other sharp utensils. Other holiday-related lacerations typically occur from scissors, tools, or sharp-edged plastic packaging. 

Safe Travels

The winter months are some of the busiest times on the road. If holiday plans include trips in the car, make sure to factor in plenty of time for traffic, consider preparing a travel safety kit, and do not drink and drive

Emergency physicians work 24/7, no matter the holiday. Do not hesitate to call 911 or visit the closest emergency department for any type of suspected medical emergency.

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