Holiday Health Hazards: Some Considerations for Safe Celebrations

Car tires on winter road covered with snow

The holiday season is a time of celebration with family and friends, but the endless running around, eating, attending parties and added stress can in fact be dangerous to your health. Here are some things to consider to ensure that you will get through the holiday season in one piece and start the New Year off on the right foot.

Food Poisoning

Attending parties is a big part of the holiday season. Eating foods prepared by others, whether at homes or at restaurants, can lead to food poisoning. This is particularly so during the Christmas holidays when there are many potluck meals and food is transported. If food is not transported under proper conditions or is left out for too long, bacteria can grow. Leftovers should always be put away within two hours of their presentation.


Choking is a serious health hazard. During the holidays you are eating more and often conversing at the same time. To avoid choking you should take small bites and chew carefully. Be aware of high risk foods like hot dogs, grapes and hard foods. You should also be aware of choking preventing techniques which can easily be accessed online.


Foods are often prepared without regard for allergies. While something may say it does not contain nuts, it may have been prepared around nuts, or nuts may have been present previously and still present if the work surface was not cleaned properly. Should you have allergies, always make the host aware and be prepared with your Epipen in case an allergic reaction does occur.

Cooking Accidents

While many individuals cook their turkey in the oven, deep frying a turkey has become very popular. Turkey fryers have become so dangerous that the Underwriters Laboratory has refused to certify any fryers on the market. Nevertheless, should you insist on deep-frying your turkey, you must follow the fryer’s instructions carefully. Keep all children and pets away. Be prepared for a flash fire, keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Knee Pain, Heart Attacks & Slip and Fall Accidents

Carrying too many bags could bring on back pain. While carrying heavy objects you should be mindful to bend at the knees. All of the work and running around over the holidays can be stressful. Ask for help or take a break. The holidays are a prime time for heart attacks. There are lots of reasons for this including higher stress levels, eating heavy meals, shoveling snow. Be very aware of chest pain. Should you have any pain do not fear ruining the party, immediately take a low dose Aspirin and call an ambulance. Christmas gift shopping goes on when there is typically winter weather conditions like snow or slush especially on walkways. Be careful while walking and wear appropriate footwear. When walking into malls be careful with wet spots on tiles, which could be a slip and fall hazard. For further information, read Safety Tips for Winter Walking.

Christmas Tree Fires

Christmas trees are an important part of the holidays, especially live cut trees. Live cut trees must be placed in water and the water level should be checked regularly. Never place burning candles on or near any tree. Christmas lights should be checked for missing bulbs and if there are any missing, then those lights should be discarded. The safest tree is a flame resistant artificial one, but even then basic fire safety should be heeded.

Ornaments and Interior Decorations

Christmas tree ornaments are dangerous in that they pose a choking hazard and glass ones are easily broken. Pine cones are also a choking hazard. Mistletoe and Poinsettia are toxic so should be placed away from children or pets.


All toys should be safety-approved, age appropriate and parents should check them. One point of danger which people neglect is the actual opening of gifts. Often individuals use scissors or knives. Many injuries occur due to cutting or stabbing, so be sure to use extra caution when using anything sharp to open gifts.

Exterior Decorating and Ladder Safety

Many homes are decorated on the exterior for the holidays. Injuries often occur due to the use of ladders. Always ensure that your ladder is secure at ground level. Ladders should be placed one foot away from a wall for every four feet it reaches up. When climbing or descending a ladder, stay centered between the rails. There should always be someone holding the bottom of the ladder. Tie the ladder down at the roof and the top two rungs should pass the roofline. Be mindful that the roof itself can be slippery.

Outdoor Activities

The holidays often involve outdoor activities, such as tobogganing and ice skating. All equipment should be in good condition. When tobogganing use areas free of trees, rocks, fences and other obstacles. Obviously your path should not cross a roadway. Proper gloves and outdoor clothes should be worn. It is recommended that helmets be worn when skiing, skating or tobogganing. Never skate on a frozen lake or pond unless it is being supervised and even in those cases, one should be extra vigilant for cracked or thin ice. For further information, read Personal Injury and Death at Government Attractions.

Car Accidents

The holidays require a bit more driving than usual to visit friends and family. Always wear your seatbelt. Ensure that children are installed in properly approved car seats. Never drink and drive. Keep your eyes on the road and if you are tired let someone else drive, or stay overnight, especially in snowy or icy conditions. For further information, read Common Causes of Car Accidents in Ontario.

Drinking & Driving

Parties often involve alcohol. While the dangers of too much alcoholic beverages seem obvious, you also need to be mindful that others are drinking too. While you cannot likely avoid driving over the holidays, you should use public transit or a taxi if you have been imbibing. If you must be on the roads, be very cautious and mindful of other drivers, especially if you see them driving erratically.

The holidays should be very memorable and a happy time for your family. Given all the hidden perils, to avoid it being a sad occasion and ensure that your holidays remain full of loving memories, consider your safety first and foremost.

Happy Holidays.

For more information, please contact personal injury lawyer Michael J. Henry at 416-361-0889 or

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