By: Jessica Bickford
It’s that time of year when we create lists to make sure that we don’t forget the important details of our celebrations. Today we’d like to provide you with a list for keeping yourself, your family, and your guests safe and healthy this holiday season.
Prescription Drug Safety – More information is available at https://www.healthylamoillevalley.org/prescription-drugs.
____ Lock or safely secure prescription drugs and other medicines. Talk to those you may be visiting to share this information with them as well.
____ Talk to younger children about NOT eating any “candy” without checking in with an adult first. Many medicines look like candy to young children.
____ Talk to children and teens about the importance of not taking medicines prescribed to someone else.
___ Remove unwanted or expired prescription drugs from the home by bringing to one of the three year-round prescription take-back sites in our region: Hardwick Police Department, Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department, and Morristown Police Department.
___ If you have young children, sit on the floor or crawl around the places where they will be playing. It is not uncommon for a dropped pill to be unnoticed.
____ Offer fun, non-alcoholic drink options for guests. This helps youth to see that they don’t have to have alcohol to have fun and provides a nice choice for those who choose not to drink alcohol.
____ Monitor your alcohol. Serving or providing alcohol to minors is illegal and not good for them. Assign an adult to ensure that youth do not have access to alcohol. Lock up open bottles of alcohol such as rum or brandy. Did you know that youth who use a drug, like alcohol, before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to struggle with substance use at some time in their life? Not a pleasant holiday gift…
____ Monitor your guests. If you choose to serve alcohol, you are responsible to make sure that your guests are in a safe “state of being” to drive. Even “buzzed” drivers create fatalities.
____ Talk to your kids and teens about your expectations and the importance of waiting to consume alcohol until they are of age. Parentupvt.org has some great resources to help with these conversations!
____ Talk to your children and teens about the dangers of tobacco products. Tobacco products come in many forms (e-cigarettes, chew and smokeless products, etc), but none are safe. The tobacco industry targets youth with use of flavors. You can find more at http://www.counterbalancevt.com.
____ If you have guests who smoke, prepare a designated outdoor smoking area out of the way of passersby where others will not be exposed to secondhand smoke. Or consider asking them to not smoke while at your home.
____ If you have guests who use smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes ask them to refrain from using in your presence, especially around youth.
____ If you or someone you know is ready to quit or thinking about it… share with them our local Vermont quit smoking resource, http://802quits.org.
____ Create a family check-in system. Family and friends’ gatherings can be wonderful or stressful. For our kids, they can be a time of connecting or a time to be challenged to try risky behaviors. Develop a plan with your children and teens to check in periodically throughout the gathering and help them to have a plan to get out of tricky situations without creating an awkward situation. Sample ideas include a keyword or phrase; asking if they can help; an invitation to join in a game…
____ Bring age-appropriate games or activities for your kids with you. You can help bring the fun… creating a joyous and safe environment!
____ Check out tips for safe food storage ahead of time! http://www.healthvermont.gov/environment/food-lodging/food-safety-consumers
____ Plan to have some healthy food options. Even a simple plate of raw vegetables is a pleasant break between the abundance of sweets and heavy holiday foods.
____ If you have a live tree, water two times a day. Consider adding a teaspoon of sugar every three days to feed the tree and keep it fresher longer.
____ Check your holiday lights. If there are any exposed wires or broken cords, discard and replace.
____ Depending on the length of your gathering, consider planning some opportunities for physical activity such as sledding, skating, a snowshoe, or a simple hike.
____ Don’t forget to check on your vacation days from work. If you can take them, do! It’s healthy to take breaks from our work environments.
Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.