By Doug Bartwell, Red Cross Volunteer
Everyone knows that being prepared for a holiday is the key to truly enjoying it. Conversely, a lack of preparation, not only creates stress, but it also creates accidents. And who needs that on a holiday?
To that end, here are a dozen to-do’s and don’ts, (mostly don’ts) that will make your holidays more merry.
Decorations to avoid if you have pets
Holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe – they are all poisonous to your dog.
As mentioned last month, real candles can be a danger if pets can get near them. Cats can get most anywhere, BTW.
Silver icicle strands are so interesting to pets who like to play with it, but it is a choking hazard for them.
You need to provide live trees with a good supply of water , but cover it so pets aren’t tempted to drink. It can get stagnant easily, and could contain bacteria that will make your pet sick.
Low-hanging ornaments are a temptation for pets. Save that lower space for presents under the tree.
Best practice, if possible, would be to set a pet fence around your tree and gifts.
In case you’ve not had dogs before, they love chocolates; but chocolate is extremely toxic and dangerous for them. Teach your children and guests not to offer them to your pups.
If you spike your eggnog, be sure to put a warning label on the bottle or serving pitcher. My dad’s friend poured a big bowl for his dog, and by the time my dad saw him, the poor dog was bouncing off the walls. (True story)
Meal prep and cleanup
Avoid the temptation to buy that big bird a week ahead of time. Many stores let you order in advance and pick up your order from the store just a day or two before your holiday. Saves worrying about adequately defrosting a big bird in time, and keeps a fresh bird from spoiling.
Don’t use the same cutting board for poultry and veggies or fruit, unless you sanitize vigorously between. Avoid bacterial contamination, which could cause your family to get sick.
Keep guests out of the kitchen, especially during flu season. Serve light appetizers elsewhere to keep them from snitching “tastes” of the food as you are carving. Most likely they haven’t washed their hands before tasting.
Reheat your leftovers to 165 degrees throughout or until steaming hot. Soups, sauces and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil for one-minute before re-serving.
Speaking about food safety, the American Red Cross offers all our disaster team members a great food safety course – for free. We could use more team members ready to respond to disasters, and would love to have you join the team. You can learn more here.