12 days of safety tips

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

With last-minute gifts to buy, social events to attend and family and friends to visit while the weather outside is frightful, the American Red Cross-Central Illinois Chapter has 12 days of health and safety tips to make the holiday season safe, happy and bright.

1.       Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother's house. Make an extra emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type), compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares and tow rope.

2.      Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely. If severe winter weather is forecasted, avoid driving in a storm if possible. If you must drive in a storm, keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.

3.      Help prevent the spread of the flu. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles and seat armrests. Learn More About Flu Safety & Prevention - http://www.redcrossillinois.org/flu-preparedness

4.      Stay warm by following Santa's lead. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears. If you're spending the holidays in snowier climates, watch for signs of hypothermia. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering, as these are symptoms of hypothermia.

5.      Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid, take emergency action when needed, monitor safe play and actively engage your child. Some babysitters may also be certified in infant and child CPR.

6.      Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts over an open fire. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable -- such as potholders, towels or curtains -- away from your stove top. Have a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.

7.      Be a lifesaver during the holidays and always. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED skills. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter has conveniently scheduled courses and can have you trained and certified in a few hours. Sign Up for a First Aid or CPR Class - http://www.redcrossillinois.org/take-a-class

8.     Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. When you designate a driver who won't be drinking, you help make sure a good party doesn't turn into a tragedy. A good host ensures there are non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. The designated driver should not drink any alcoholic beverages, not even one. More information on the chapter’s Designated Driver Program - http://www.redcrossillinois.org/dd-program

9.     When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month. Learn More About Fire Prevention & Safety  - http://www.redcrossillinois.org/heating-fires

10.   Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned by a professional and change your filter regularly. Make sure heat vents aren't blocked by furniture. Close off any rooms you aren't using and close heat vents or turn off radiators in these rooms. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround your windows and door moldings.

11.   Don't move a muscle until they buckle. Each person in your vehicle should have their seat belts securely fastened before driving off. Ensure children are buckled up and their car seats are installed appropriately based on their age and size. Children 12 and under should always sit in the back seat. Learn More About Seatbelt Safety - http://www.redcrossillinois.org/buckle-up

12.  Resolve to be Red Cross Ready in the New Year. You can take one or more actions to prepare now, should you and your family face an emergency in 2010. Make a plan. Get a kit. Be informed. Check Out Our Free Be Red Cross Ready Online Training -