Many people will engage in some type of motor vehicle transportation during the holidays. In 2017, more than 300 people died on New Year's Day and almost 300 people on Christmas Day. It is important to point out that alcohol overconsumption was involved in approximately one third of these fatalities. If you are a guest or a host it is very important that you monitor the amount of alcohol that is consumed and take the appropriate alternative steps to avoid these potentially deadly situations.
If you are going to be traveling on a long trip, by motor vehicle, it is important that you do a number of things:
- Make sure that your car is winterized, is in good working order and keep an emergency kit with you in your vehicle;
- Make sure that you are well rested before departing and be mindful of any time you feel that you are getting drowsy and take the appropriate steps to rest or arrange for an alternative driver;
- It is a good idea to plan your trip in advance so that you can leave at a time when the traffic will be the lightest so you can avoid most major hazards;
- If your car has a number of people in it then the risk for distracted driving will go up significantly. Make sure that you keep your attention and eyes on the road so you can avoid any potentially dangerous situation;
- Before leaving make sure that every person in the vehicle is properly seat belted no matter how short the distance that you are going to travel;
- Practice defensive driving and be on the lookout for people who are not following the rules of the road;
- When driving, do not operate a cell phone, the GPS, the radio or other items that can distract you from the important task of operating a motor vehicle but instead designate someone else in the car to do so; and
- Always make sure that you designate a safe driver if people are going to consume alcohol while you are out at some type of the function.
If you are going to act as a host, then you can do some of the following things:
- Always keep an eye on the amount of alcohol that is consumed by your guests and if there is ever a question about overconsumption make alternative arrangements for the person to either stay over, arrange for a designated driver, or order them an Uber or some other type of transportation;
- It is very important that you be aware of proper food handling practices as this is the time of the year when many people get food poisoning. Make sure that you do not cross contaminate other foods with raw meat, wash your hands frequently when handling food, use a food thermometer to make sure that meat is cooked to a safe temperature, use separate cutting boards for cooked and uncooked food, and refrigerate food within two hours of being served;
- If you have children coming to visit you make sure that you do an inventory of your home to make sure that you are properly safeguarding these individuals from any potential danger;
- If there are young children you will want to make sure that there are no small toys or other items that could become a choking hazard;
- If any of your children have received gifts such as scooters or other riding toys, make sure that they are properly supervised so as to avoid the risk of injury; and
- Make sure that you constantly check on your young guests to make sure that all are experiencing a safe and enjoyable time while at your home.
This is the time of the year that we should enjoy each other's company and be happy and thankful for all that we have. The last thing you want to happen is for there to be some serious injury or death as a result of an avoidable accident. Have a very happy, safe and joyous holiday season and watch out for each other!