decorating tree


How to Avoid Holiday Distractions & Accidents

With the approaching holiday season, and as you and your employees try to juggle parties, shopping, hosting, planning, traveling, and work, there’s a good chance that some will lose focus and momentum in the workplace. 

Distractions. We often see a rise in accidents from the distractions during the holiday season.  Here are simple ways to stay focused and maintain high productivity during the chaotic holiday season:

Clear your mind. Get your tasks and projects, both personal and professional, onto paper and out of your head. Once you see all your commitments and want-to-do’s, decide which to drop and which could wait until the New Year.

Avoid multitasking. Try to avoid working on personal and work-related tasks at the same time. Shopping online while listening in on a conference call could be disastrous. 

Start working on year-end projects and personal tasks early. Start your holiday shopping earlier than you have in the past, and get a head start on any upcoming projects at work. This way, when you’re busy with office parties and planning family gatherings later this month, you’ll have fewer to-do items on your plate.

Watch out for distractions. While at the office, don’t try to cram in shopping at lunch or buy gifts online. At work, focus on work. You can take on the holiday chores during your personal time. It will also free you up from trying to do too many things at once.

Take care of yourself physically. Exercise more, not less, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Sleep more, not less, just thirty minutes more a night can make a big difference. And watch what you eat and drink - the increase in sugary foods and alcoholic beverages will impact you the next day at work, both mentally and physically!

Don’t over-commit. Be sure to prioritize and balance your holiday activities with your work obligations. Don’t feel like you have to go to every department lunch gathering or office party you get invited to. Keeping focused and maintaining a good work-life balance sometimes means saying no. Remember what the holidays are all about. 

Set limits for total holiday spending.  Give your credit card and your mind a holiday by limiting what you buy to what can safely come out of your bank account. Use this opportunity to create or get your budget into fighting shape, and use it to decide how much money you can afford to spend.

Keep in mind the holiday season is for celebration. This should be a joyful time of the year. A chaotic holiday season is a choice, not a given.  These distractions can and often lead to injuries and illness, too.

Falling While Decorating. Thousands of people are injured each holiday season by falling off ladders and chairs as they put up decorations. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that over 5,000 people are injured in fall-related injuries attributed to holiday decorating or related activities. Holiday decorators fall from:

• Ladders    • Roofs    • Stairs    • Porches    • Furniture (e.g., standing on a chair to hang decorations)

• People also may sustain fall injuries by tripping over or slipping on holiday-related items (e.g., tree skirts, extension cords)

Most holiday decorating falls involve using ladders or using something to substitute for a ladder.

These accidents can be avoided by using ladders properly:

• Ensure the ladder is on a level surface and the areas around its top and bottom are clear.

• For every 4 feet in height, space the bottom of the ladder 1 foot from the wall.

• Extend a ladder at least 3 feet beyond the edge of a roof.

• Stay centered between the ladder’s rails. Move the ladder instead of overreaching.

• Make sure stepladders are fully opened and locked.

Holiday Fires. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) focused on fires caused by Christmas trees and candles. 50% of Christmas tree fires happen between December 22 through January 5, due to faulty lights, candle decorations,and more.  Candles-started fires account for 13% of the fires each December. If you burn candles, make sure candles are on stable, heat-resistant surfaces where children and pets cannot reach them or knock them over accidentally. Keep lit candles away from trees,  decorations, curtains, furniture and other items that can catch fire. Never leave a candle burning. Put all candles out before leaving the room. When decorating with a recently cut Christmas tree, make sure it is green and its needles do not fall out easily, which means it is fresh. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. Set a tree up away from heat sources, such as HVAC vents, radiators or fireplaces, and away from foot traffic. Check its water level every day. Check tree lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged strings of lights. Be sure to use indoor lights on a tree indoors. Check extension cords and do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.

Slipping & Tripping. Depending on where you live or work the holiday season usually brings wet conditions such as rain and in some areas snow and ice are the hazards you may have to deal with.  Having walk-off mats at your entry doors is a great way to reduce the amount of water or snow that is tracked into your buildings.  As a property owner, you may be held liable if you did not properly remove or deal with wet conditions or snow and ice on sidewalks, steps, or driveways on or adjacent to your premises. Remove the snow and spread an ice-melting product, such as rock salt. Some commercial products are designed to be used before snow falls. Be sure to read labels and follow precautions on the SDS (Safety Date Sheets) about these chemicals.

Bad Weather Car Accidents. Wet and snowy / icy conditions on roads create driving hazards that is sometimes unavoidable.  Texas statistics show that over 3300 lives are lost every year on Texas Road.  More people are injured each year across Texas in bad weather car accidents. When you must drive on wet or icy roads, the best advice is to slow down and allow more distance between your car and the cars ahead of you. Stay about 20 seconds behind other cars in case they stop suddenly. Signal well in advance of lane changes or turns so other drivers have time to slow down and give you room. Avoid hard braking, because braking can send your car into a skid. Slow down by easing up on the accelerator when possible. If your car begins to skid, turn into the direction of the slide.

Holiday Celebrations. Many people attend parties and gatherings during the winter holiday season. Some gatherings and celebrations include alcohol. Unfortunately, car accidents caused by drunk drivers increase around the holidays, just remember that all drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable.  If you plan to attend a party and drink alcohol, have a designated driver or get a taxi or a ridesharing service to take you home. Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food.       There are many forms of food poisoning ranging from mild stomach problems to potentially life threatening illness. It is   very important to take steps to prevent this illness whilst on holiday. 1 in 6 Americans suffer from food-borne illnesses each year.  Thawing a turkey in an uncontrolled environment can lead to this type of illness. Try to avoid the following types of food:

• Not cooked thoroughly      • Left out/not stored at correct temp

• Not prepared hygienically • Re-heated incorrectly   

Remember to keep everyone healthy this year by understanding - and avoiding - the most common distractions and accidents will make for a more enjoyable holiday season for everyone.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season!

– Catto & Catto LLP

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