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Christmas may be the one holiday you have been looking forward to all year, but it also comes with a whole lot of health and safety risks. Find out what the most common Christmas health busters are, and how to avoid falling victim to these dangers.

Your Christmas tree is set up, your presents are bought and wrapped, and your Christmas menu is ready. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, if you don't watch out for these health-busters than can ruin Christmas for the whole family!

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Food Poisoning

E. Coli, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter are all nasty bacteria that can force you to spend your Christmas in the bathroom. Those of us who are going to cook Christmas dinner for guests have a special responsibility to ensure that the food we serve is safe. Food poisoning is no fun!

The most basic and most effective step anyone can take to prevent food poisoning is to wash their hands frequently. Wash your hands before you handle food, after you are done, and when you switch from preparing one type of food to preparing another. Vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly before use, and frozen meat should be defrosted responsibly.

Cutting boards, kitchen surfaces, and dishcloths are all breeding grounds for bacteria that could contribute to giving you food poisoning. Washing cutting boards and kitchen surfaces with a diluted bleach solution, and frequently laundering dishcloths will do a lot to prevent that dreaded diarrhea and vomiting.

Needless to say, you always need to cook your meat thoroughly. If you are one of those people who loves tasting food while cooking, make sure you use a new spoon each time! Finally, if you have your doubts about a certain food you were planning to serve stay on the safe side and throw it away.

Christmas Allergens

Have you been sneezing and coughing? Do you have a runny nose or a headache? You are probably blaming it on the flu season. While you are sipping your lemon-ginger tea and waiting for that “cold” to pass, stop to consider your Christmas tree as the possible cause of your symptoms.

Some unfortunate people are allergic to the pine trees that serve as Christmas trees. Mold, dust and dust mites are far more common causes of a “Christmas allergy”, however. Those people who are suffering from allergy symptoms can still take steps to improve the situation:

  • Strip your Christmas tree of its decorations, and take them outside. Dust them thoroughly, or put your hair dryer on cool and blow that dust away.

  • Take your Christmas tree outside. If it is a natural pine tree, hose it down and leave it to dry in the garage or bathroom. This will get rid of most mold spores as well as traces of pesticides. Artificial Christmas trees can be dusted with a hair dryer on its cool setting, blown with a leaf dryer, or simply shaken. If you do not have a garden or balcony, open a window and blow the dust toward the outside.

  • Vacuum-clean your home after taking these steps, and continue to vacuum-clean your home frequently throughout the holiday period.

  • If these steps do not improve your symptoms, you may have to consider removing your Christmas tree or replacing it with another one. An artificial tree will work for people suffering adverse reactions to pine needles or mold, while a natural pine may be great for those with dust mite allergies.

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