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5 Common Holiday Hazards

Holidays are a time of joy and good times but it can also be a time of hazards. Most of us don’t think about what could go wrong until it happens and then it’s too late. I’ve created a short list of common holiday hazards we should all be aware of and try to avoid.


There’s no shortage of toys during the holidays. Be sure to check the recommended ages for each one before giving it to a child. Small children often enjoy putting things in their mouths so it’s very easy for small children to choke on toys with small pieces.


When having people over for fellowship, fun and food be sure to ask if anyone has food allergies. Some allergies are minor while others can be fatal. If someone alerts you to a food allergy consider labeling dishes so they don’t mistakenly eat something they shouldn’t or you can be really nice and make a special allergen-free dish just for them.


In cold weather, ice is always a concern. Ice can be quite dangerous and is the cause of many a slip and fall. Exercise extreme caution when around ice especially when walking. It’s a good idea walk on snow or grass which generally have better traction.


Holidays wouldn’t be the same without Christmas trees and nothing beats the real thing. However, real Christmas trees are highly flammable and the drier they are the more flammable. Fire departments across the US respond to almost 200 Christmas tree fires a year that cause millions of dollars in damage, injuries and sometimes death. To lessen the chance of a fire hazard, purchase a freshly cut tree. Be sure to keep it at least three feet away from any heat source (vent, space heaters, fireplaces, candles, and lights). Water the tree every day, and remove it from your home after Christmas or once it becomes dry. Don't burn Christmas tree branches in your fireplace.


Another concern is kitchen fires and burns. Many people spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen. This time often increases around the holidays and it’s important to practice kitchen safety. In the event that a fire does occur, keep these things in mind:

  • Never throw water on a grease fire. Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher but if there is none, you can smother the fire with a wet towel or blanket or throw flour on it to extinguish the flame.

If someone should become burned the severity of the burn determines how it should be treated.

For minor burns:

  • To cool the burn run cool water on it, cool water not cold.

  • Afterward, cool compress or clean, cool cloth can be applied to help relieve pain and swelling.

  • If blisters should appear do not burst them. Bursting a blister can lead to infection. Although, sometimes they will burst on their own.

  • To ward off infection, use an antibiotic such as Neosporin. Aloe vera has also been proven to help heal first and second degree burns. Aloe is an anti-inflammatory, promotes circulation and inhibits the growth of bacteria. The best way is to apply aloe vera is to get the gel from the leaf of an aloe vera plant.

For severe burns:

  • To cool the burn run cool water on it, cool water not cold.

  • Then, wrap it in a cool compress and call an ambulance or take them to the hospital.

These are just a few holiday hazards you should be mindful of so that we can all have safe and happy holidays.


Dorsha James, MD, is a 15-year veteran emergency medicine physician in the Nashville, TN area. She now serves as the CEO and chief medical officer for her company myURGENCYMD. myURGENCYMD is a national telemedicine company that provides members with access to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week virtual consultations with a board-certified physician to discuss non-emergency conditions. She enjoys empowering patients by helping them understand how to properly utilize the many avenues for the treatment of medical conditions to obtain optimal health. To learn more about the company, visit


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