Ways to have healthy holiday season


The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful and reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health.

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy and ready to enjoy the holidays.

• Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

• Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers; gloves; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.

• Manage stress. The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed and out of control.

• Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.

• Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke. If you smoke, quit today. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk to your health care provider for help.

• Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt according to their height, weight and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip, and encourage passengers to do the same.

• Get exams and screenings. Exams and screenings can help find potential problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history.

• Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Every one 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Schedule a visit with your health care provider for needed exams and screenings. Ask what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, travel plans, medical history and family health history.

• Monitor children. Children are at high risk for injuries. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, choking hazards (like coins and hard candy) and other objects out of kids’ reach.

Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking. Make sure toys are used properly. Develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors, including using electronic media. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.

• Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves or candles unattended. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees and curtains. Don’t use generators, grills or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.

Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.

• Prepare food safely. As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-at foods and eating surfaces.

Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.

• Eat healthy, stay active. With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Eat fruits and vegetables, which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least one hour a day.

To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.