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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.

Alcohol - A Common Christmas Danger

Christmas and the new year are perhaps the ultimate occasions on which to enjoy a drink. I bet you're planning to serve fruit punch, mulled wine, or bubbly drinks. I'll take the opportunity to remind you that sober friends and relatives really don't enjoy socializing with someone who is drunk. Furthermore, the holiday doesn't end with Christmas eve. Were you planning to attend Church? A hangover is not so charming.

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Glass Christmas tree decorations can turn into a horrible hazard when you are drunk, and the same goes for kitchen knives. Even a glass of water spilled on the floor can send you to the ER in no time if you slip! Still, having a few drinks is an important part Christmas for most people. Alcohol is fine when you enjoy it in moderation and take some common-sense precautions. Those people planning to have a drink should not drive, and families with kids should designate one parent or caregiver who will stay sober.

While we are on the subject of children — that fruit punch looks rather appealing, doesn't it? Alcohol poisoning is, sadly, an avoidable health hazard that many kids fall victim to all year round. Christmas, during which most people enjoy more than a few drinks, poses a special risk. Make absolutely sure that your punch bowl is not within the reach of any toddlers who are attending your Christmas party.

Christmas Tree Lights And Other Unlikely Hazards

Those Christmas tree lights look amazing, and that is probably exactly why some kids swallow bulbs. Burns and electric shocks are other Christmas-light hazards, but there is one more danger you need to be aware of. Like blind cords, small children could easily get caught up in a string of Christmas lights — with deadly consequences.

Parents of young children should never leave their kids in the same room with a Christmas tree unsupervised. Besides the Christmas lights, glass decorations, anger hair made from glass fiber, and the Christmas tree itself all have the potential to seriously injure small kids.

The gifts are waiting for your children under the Christmas tree deserve some scrutiny as well. Many toys and games contain small parts that pose a choking hazard to the littlest ones, but you figured that one out already. It's toys with lead-based paints that you should be really careful with. Purchasing presents from reputable toy shops will go a long way toward keeping your children safe, and checking whether your chosen gift has a safety certificate also helps.

Holiday Stress And Violence

Even the most organized, Martha Steward-like person is bound to be stressed out during the holiday season. Hosting dinners, buying gifts, and simply the pressure to be happy can be overwhelming. For people suffering from mental health problems, Christmas can be the biggest health buster of them all!

Police statistics warn us that cases of domestic abuse also go up by one-third on Christmas day. This is important for you to know if your partner has violent tendencies. If you suffer from a mental-health condition that can cause you to be violent, that information can serve you very well too.

Though Christmas is very nearly here, it is not too late to talk to your therapist about handling the holiday stress. Those who feel they are at risk — either of being violent, or being the victim of violence — still have time to make arrangements that can keep them and others safe. Checking into a mental health facility is a good option for those who think they may harm themselves or others. Staying with friends or family could b e a possibility for those with violent partners, but you should not hesitate to ask a domestic violence shelter for help either.  

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