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Tips for a safe holiday season

How to get through another turkey dinner without burning the house down

Posted: December 25, 2013 - 1:05am

Don’t start the New Year singing, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” Several local agencies have holiday safety tips to keep you, the little ones and your furry friends happy, healthy and all in one piece.

The Juneau Empire gathered all the following safety advice from the SouthEast Regional Health Consortium, the American Red Cross of Alaska and the Gastineau Humane Society so everyone can have a happy and safe holiday season.

If the weather has you thinking, “Baby, its cold outside,” turn up the heat, but be sure that if you’re using a wood stove that your carbon monoxide monitors and smoke alarms have fresh batteries.

Lesa Way at SEARHC says the holidays are a good time to check smoke alarms in the house. Batteries should be replaced once per year and the entire smoke alarm unit should be replaced every seven years.

It’s an old amateur cook’s trick to pop the batteries out of the alarm when it starts screaming bloody murder over a little charred bird, but don’t leave the alarm in your junk drawer until Easter. If the turkey starts smoking and during the ensuing madness you remove the smoke alarm nearest the kitchen, be sure to replace it right away. The Red Cross has even better advice: “Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.”

The Red Cross also advises the holiday cook to enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and to make sure that kids stay at least three feet away from the stove. Turn the handles of pots and pans inward to avoid knocking over the gravy while chasing the young’uns out of the kitchen. A kid-free zone also ensures that glass of wine you’re using for “cooking” doesn’t get mistaken for grape juice.

Be sure to clean any built-up grease around the stove and in case of a fire, know exactly where the fire extinguisher is. Make sure the kids didn’t get bored and hide it in the linen closet.

Way said parents of older children may need to consider childproofing before having visitors over.

“I don’t have small kids anymore, but when they come over to visit you might realize ‘Oh, this is not a baby-safe house anymore,’” she said.

If after Christmas dinner you realize you’ve eaten too much, a brisk walk outside may help make room for dessert. Make sure grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer by putting reflective tape on all cold-weather gear. Ensure Fido’s safety, too, by putting the tape on his leash. Drivers, especially those who don’t see as well in the dark, and Santa will thank you for it. Avoid a black and blue Christmas by wearing removable cleats over your shoes when walking on icy patches.

If ice-skating is part of your family tradition, SEARHC suggests bringing out the bike helmets. If you feel like it, make the kids wear them for the entire holiday break from school. Who knows what kind of trouble they might get into. Drivers should keep in mind that while kids are out of school, they might be out playing in neighborhood streets. Drive extra slow and watch for little bodies scrambling to conquer snow berms.

Speaking of driving, the Alaska State Troopers and the Juneau Police Department will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers. It’s hard enough driving on Juneau’s streets sober this time of year, so don’t try it drunk or high. If you’ve been partying like it’s 1989 and don’t have a sober friend who can either drive you home or give you a couch to crash on, call a cab and get some new friends in the New Year.

Don’t forget to watch out for your best friend. Pets can get lost in the excitement of the holidays. Chava Lee, executive director at the Gastineau Humane Society, says that with friends and family coming and going from people’s homes, a pet might escape unnoticed. With recent heavy snows, some of the scent markers that would usually signal the way home for a wayfaring dog or cat might be gone.

Lastly, avoid making New Year’s resolutions after you’ve finished your third slice of pie. That piece of advice doesn’t come from any of our local agencies, but it’s worth following.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year from the Juneau Empire!

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.

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