Ring in the New Year healthy and safe

12/31/2013, 1:30 a.m.
As we blow party horns to ring in the New Year, we take pause to remember our accomplishments and celebrate ...

As we blow party horns to ring in the New Year, we take pause to remember our accomplishments and celebrate the hopeful year ahead. As we enjoy the festivities, we should also be mindful of how we can improve our wellbeing in the New Year.

By sharing these tips from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can ensure that you and your family are on the road to living a healthier and safer New Year.

  1. Wash hands often to avoid spreading germs and getting sick. “Keeping hands clean is one of the most significant steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others,” says Dr. Heather Taras, Emergency Medicine physician at the Silver Cross Free-Standing Emergency Care Center located at 143rd St. and Bell Rd in Homer Glen. “By simply washing your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds, you are reducing your exposure to harmful pathogens that can make you ill. If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product. The key thing to remember is that clean hands do save lives.”
  2. Bundle up and stay dry to keep warm. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry, and dress warmly in several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  3. Manage stress. Keep a check on over-commitment. The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Keep a check on over-commitment and over-spending. By balancing work, home, and social commitments, you can keep a more relaxed and positive outlook.
  4. Travel safely. Don't drink and drive. Don't let anyone else drink and drive. If you're traveling, help ensure your trip is safe. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you ride in a motor vehicle. Always be sure to buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to his/her height, weight, and age.
  5. Avoid smoking. Avoid smoking and breathing other people's smoke. If you smoke, quit today! If you think you cannot do it alone seek help, talk to your healthcare provider who can give you valuable assistance in your efforts against smoking.
  6. Get check-ups, vaccinations, exams and screenings. Ask your healthcare provider what exams and tests you need and when to get them. Exams and screenings can help find problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are better. Further, vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Schedule a visit with your health care provider for a yearly exam. “It’s important to be proactive with your health in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Taras. “Ask your physician what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, medical history, and family health history.”
  7. Monitor your children. Children are at high risk for injuries that can lead to death or disability. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, choking hazards (like coins and hard candy), and other objects out of kids' reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking.
  8. Prevent injuries. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan. Use step stools instead of furniture when hanging decorations. Don't use generators or grills inside your home or garage. Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.
  9. Handle and prepare food safely. As you prepare holiday meals, keep you and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
  10. Eat healthy, and be active. Eat healthy, and get moving. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat and sugar. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy.

By talking these tips over with your family members, you can decide which ones can realistically be achieved together. So as the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s Eve, kiss your loved ones and commit to living a healthier lifestyle.