Secret Santa Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Santa’s safety and health tips should help you navigate the holiday season, whether it’s ladder safety or avoiding decking yourself instead of the halls.

Santa Claus has many years of experience with sourcing presents—the elves can’t make everything!—and in self-care (delivering presents to children around the world in a 24-hour period is hard work!).

Whether it’s buying presents, decorating the tree or staying healthy over the next few weeks, here are a few tips from the jolly guy himself to help you successfully and safely navigate the holiday season.

Presents: Visions of Product Safety Dance Through Our Heads

With the pandemic having pushed in-person shopping online for many people, it can be much harder being informed about your gift purchases. It also means fraudsters or businesses with low quality management standards are ready to take advantage of desperate shoppers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while stress-testing your credit card. 

  • Pay attention to recommended age ratings for children’s toys. They’re rated for safety, not intellectual ability. Toys rated for older children often have small parts or button batteries that could seriously harm small children who ingest them. 
  • Skateboards, scooters and bicycles are great holiday gifts, but don’t forget the helmets. Nobody wants to take a child to the emergency room with a head injury during the holidays. 
  • Online marketplaces are not like traditional retail outlets that are subject to inspection and have high standards of care for the products they sell. Many products advertised in online platforms come from third-party sellers, which means the platform is not responsible for product safety. As a result, you might end up purchasing electronic devices produced by disreputable companies that have not been inspected by accredited safety inspectors. Do your research on the products you buy, shop from reputable dealers and beware of deals that look to good to be true to avoid counterfeit products that could be unsafe. 
  • Plastic packaging is not meant to be easy to get into. It’s meant to protect the product during international shipping, and it can have very sharp edges when opened improperly. That means you need to be careful and take it slowly when opening it. Further, slashing at it with a penknife to get it open for eager recipients is likely to land you in the emergency room with a hand wound. Open packaging slowly and carefully to avoid injury. 

Santa’s Health Tips

Taking a break from work over the holidays brings a welcome relief from routine. However, it might also see us engaging in some activities we’re not used to. Here are some tips to help you pay attention to your body and to stay alert from warning signals. 

  • Over-indulging in holiday treats is expected over the holidays, but don’t be so quick to dismiss chest pain as indigestion. The holiday season usually sees a spike in the risk of heart attack, the symptoms of which can mimic indigestion. No one wants to go to the emergency room with a false alarm, but if you don’t usually experience heart burn and find yourself with a nasty bout of it during the holidays, play it safe and go to the hospital. 
  • Not everyone should shovel snow. While parents or grandparents might want to prove their mettle by wading into the drifts and clearing the path for the family, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths every year. Snow looks pretty, but a few shovels full of it weighs hundreds of pounds, which means it’s no ordinary physical activity. If you’re not normally a physically active person or have heart problems or high blood pressure, consider doing it in increments with plenty of breaks to rest, or maybe share the job with others and take shifts. Never work to the point of exhaustion. 
  • Cold winter weather means sledding, snowboarding and skiing. However, if you’re not careful, it also means frostbite and hypothermia. Extreme cold weather is not conducive to outdoor activities, so don’t wander into the frigid air for extended periods of time just because you’re trying to take advantage of your time off. Both frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly and without warning during physical activity, so check dress appropriately for the weather and monitor exposed skin for signs of frostbite. 

Decking the Halls Shouldn’t Be Dangerous

Festive lights on houses, beautiful Christmas trees, decorations spread throughout the home; decking the halls with boughs of holly sounds fun, but anyone who’s done it knows that it’s a lot of work. Climbing ladders, untangling lights, setting up the tree—whether it’s a live tree or an artificial one—qualifies as physical labor in our household. Here are some tips to help you avoid trips to the emergency room and sore muscles:

  • Whether you’re stringing lights inside or outside, you likely have pulled out a ladder. Make sure the ladder is the right size for the job, is in good condition and is sitting on a level, firm surface. Never use a ladder if you feel tired or dizzy or are prone to losing your balance. Do not use ladders in high winds or storms. Wear clean slip-resistant shoes.  Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not considered sufficiently slip-resistant.
  • When ladders, always face the ladder and use both hands to climb and descent. Keep three limbs on the ladder at all times. Carry tools in a tool belt or raise and lower them with a hand line. Always hold on with one hand and never reach too far to either side or to the rear.
  • More than 173,000 people in the United States were injured by Christmas trees, lights and other holiday-related decorations from 2007 to 2016. Almost 23,000 people were estimated to have been injured by Christmas trees or stands, with artificial Christmas trees accounting for 17,928 injuries, real trees accounting for an estimated 2,216 injuries (mostly from knives and saws used to trim or cut down a tree) and stands and supports hurt 2,839 people nationwide during that time period. People got decked along with the halls, with 31,855 injuries reported nationwide, most of them attributed to both electrical and nonelectrical decorations. Electrical decorations, excluding tree lights, are estimated to have harmed 36,054 people, while nonelectrical decorations injured 80,208. According to statistics, men were more likely to be harmed by electrical lights and decorations and women by nonelectrical decorations.
  • Random holiday-related injuries reported by emergency rooms include back and knee injuries related to too much dancing and/or too many trips up and down ladders; carpal tunnel-like symptoms related to signing masses of holiday cards; children falling off Santa’s lap; injuries suffered during stampedes of shoppers trying to reach certain toys and electronics; and allergies to live trees and holiday greenery.

While the holidays can be a festive time of the year, there are some hazards that you need to avoid if you want to be able to celebrate the season. We hope these Secret Santa tips help you do that.

This entry was posted in Health & Safety Management and tagged by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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