Holiday tips from Memorial Hermann Southeast

Published 11/26/2014


HOUSTON -- The tips below will help keep you and your family safe during the holidays. Memorial Herman Southeast Hospital wishes you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.


·Lock all doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.

· Keep all doors and windows secure when you are home and be aware that criminals may pose as couriers or solicit donations for fraudulent purposes.

· Have a neighbor watch your home and pick up newspapers/mail when away for an extended time.

· Indoor and outdoor lights should be set on automatic timers.

· Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.

· Make sure doors and passageways are not blocked by holiday decorations.

· If you use decorative lights, ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed to prevent a fire.

· Never place wrapping paper in your fireplace.

· Conceal or break down large boxes from valuable items before placing at the curb for trash pickup.

· Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

· Never use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains/drapes, or with any potentially flammable item.

· If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered to avoid dry branches from catching fire from the heat of light bulbs. When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”

· Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Ladder Safety

· When putting up holiday decorations, always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places. Don’t stand on chairs, desks or other furniture.

· If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door and post signs so no one will open it and knock you off the ladder.

· A straight or extension ladder should be placed one foot away from the surface it rests against for every four feet of ladder height.

· When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs to climb – not the side rails. Always keep three points of contact on the ladder whether two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.

· When climbing, keep your hips between the side rails and do not lean too far or overreach. Reposition the ladder closer to the work instead.

· Use ladders with slip-resistant feet and wear clean, dry and slip-resistant shoes when climbing a ladder.

· When using ladders outdoors, get down immediately if high winds, rain, or other inclement weather begins.

Hosting and Food Safety

· When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family be sure to wash hands, utensils, sink, and anything else that has come in contact with raw poultry. Keep in mind that a stuffed bird takes longer to cook.

· Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.

· While doing holiday cooking, keep your knives sharp. Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades.

· Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving.

· Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges. They easily harbor bacteria and promote bacteria growth. Use clean paper towels instead.

· When reheating leftovers, bring the temperature up to at least 165°F to eliminate any bacterial growth.

· Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers (less than two inches deep) within two hours after cooking. Date the leftovers for future use.

· Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party.


· Park in well-lit areas at night.

· Avoid parking next to cars with dark tint, vans or trucks with camper shells.

· Keep all doors locked while in or out of your vehicle.

· Park in close proximity to your destination and note your vehicle’s location.

· Do not leave packages or valuables visible. This includes radar detectors and navigation systems.

· Have your keys in hand before returning to your vehicle.

· Be aware of your surroundings when leaving or returning to your vehicle.

· Do not approach your vehicle if there are suspicious people nearby.

· Consider asking mall or store security for an escort before leaving the store.

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

· If you must use an ATM, choose a location inside a bank or mall and withdraw only the amount needed.

· Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.

· Do not discard your ATM receipt at the ATM location.


· Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

· Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Do not carry a wallet or purse, if possible.

· Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. These items are prime criminal targets in crowded shopping areas.

· Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep money secure in your front pocket.

· Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

· Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Maintaining clear visibility and freedom of motion is important.

· Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con artists may try various methods of distraction.

· Even though you are rushed and have a lot on your mind, stay alert to your surroundings.