One of the major changes during the holidays is an increase in visitors. Here are a few holiday safety tips for pets, children, and even elderly relatives, who may visit your home. Keep food and plants out of reach of people with limited capacity to understand what may be dangerous, as well as pets. Many are toxic. Those that aren’t extremely toxic may still make them very ill and ruin the holiday with a trip to the emergency room.
Plants never seem like a danger to humans, but if Grandma is a bit senile and used to making tea from her kitchen herb garden, you don’t want her to make tea with your philodendron that sits on the kitchen windowsill. Mint will soothe her stomach, but philodendron is toxic. When people are immersed in the business of holidays, strange mistakes happen. Elderly or disabled relatives are much more likely to be overtired, disoriented, and confused by unfamiliar surroundings. Just because Grandma has been to your house every year for ten years, you can’t assume it will be familiar to her. A simple mistake like the one described above can result in a tragedy. Be sure to keep an eye on pets and kids outside too. Landscape plants like sago palms and the foliage on tomato plants are very toxic. This is a case when the old adage “better safe than sorry” truly applies to holiday safety.
Also, ask your guests about food allergies before you plan menus for parties and gatherings. It is especially important when children are included. An adult knows to ask what ingredients are used or not to eat items that obviously contain ingredients that cause a problem. However, children may sample whatever is offered or take food without asking. In addition, some allergies are severe enough that just having the food in the room can set off a reaction. Allergies are much more common due to the many preservatives and unusual ingredients added to prepared foods we use. For example, MSG is a very common allergy. It is also a very common ingredient in many dips and sauces.
Another thing to monitor carefully is medications that may be brought into the home by relatives. Relatives, who are childless, do not have pets, or who are not elder caregivers, may be accustomed to leaving medications in drawers, bathrooms, and on nightstands. If you have pets, a parent with Alzheimer’s, or small children, this can be an accident waiting to happen. Some dogs eat anything. Cats play with pills that slide around on nightstands and bathroom cabinets. Children put things that are pretty colors in their mouth.
Moreover, elders with medical conditions may mistake another person’s medication for their own. Explain the problem and ask that prescription and over-the-counter medications be kept up high out of sight and reach of children and pets. The top drawer of a high dresser or up on the shelf in a closet may work for a short visit. If possible, close the door to the guest room and make it off limits too.
If that isn’t possible (someone is wheelchair bound or otherwise unable to reach your designated safe height), offer to help with medications or purchase a locked metal box that can be used during their visit. The boxes don’t cost much compared to an emergency room visit or worse, but it’s still up to you to insure that it is kept locked and that the key is not left lying around. You must not assume you can leave the responsibility to someone else after you’ve given appropriate instructions. Remember, your guest is not used to living with these precautions. You are ultimately responsible for your family’s holiday safety in your home.
Do you have pets? Read Don’t Eat the Guests
Do you have more tips?
What type of precautions do you take? Have you had problems because you overlooked a potential danger? Please, share your tips to help us all have a safe holiday.