Published on: December 23, 2020
As the holidays draw near, people may be looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends - especially as the eventful (and stressful for many) year of 2020 draws to a close. Although the holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time together with loved ones, it’s important to keep COVID safety guidelines in mind as the pandemic continues to spread.To help you stay safe around the holidays, here are some holiday safety tips so you can celebrate with friends and family - while also helping to keep you and your community protected!
- How to Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season With COVID-19
- Holiday Safety Tips to Remember Year-Round
- Considerations for People at Increased Risk for Severe Illness
How to Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season With COVID-19
As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise throughout the country, your normal holiday plans may need to be adjusted in order to stay safe. The safest way to celebrate the holiday season is to stay home with the people who live with you, since traveling to gatherings of family and friends who do not live with you can increase your chances of being infected with the virus.
If you do choose to visit or host family and friends for the holidays, there are a few holiday safety steps you can take to help provide a safe experience for everyone involved!
If Hosting a Gathering:
Check the COVID-19 Rates Area
Are you planning on hosting friends and family for the holidays? To help keep everyone safe, it's important to pay attention to the COVID-19 infection rates in your area. As more infection cases spread throughout the country and hospitalizations increase, it’s important to regard your community’s numbers and heed the advice of local leaders. To find information on the number of cases in your area , go to your local health department website or the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker County View.
Practice Food Safety
If possible, avoid sharing food by serving meals, appetizers, and desserts on individual plates and have people write their names on disposable cups to prevent sharing. Eating outdoors helps to increase the circulation, which mitigates spread of the virus. If your area experiences colder winters, then perhaps eat outside around a bonfire or heater. If you do choose to host indoors, consider opening windows for airflow.
Adhere To COVID-19 Guidelines Prior To Gathering
The behavior of your friends and family before getting together plays a major part in preventing the spread of the virus. Ask them to consistently adhere to CDC guidelines for COVID-19, including adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), wearing masks in public, routine hand washing, and other preventative measures. If possible, ask to have members tested for the virus prior from setting foot in your home. Individuals who do not adhere to CDC guidelines for COVID-19 pose more risk than those who consistently practiced these safety measures.
Encourage Basic Safety Measures
By encouraging hand-washing (or mask-wearing and social distancing, depending on what you’re comfortable with), you can provide a safer environment for your holiday gathering. This could include setting up hand sanitizer stations around your house or making hand washing accessible for guests.
If You're Traveling:
If you do decide to travel to see loved ones, it’s important to prioritize safety. Go through this checklist to help mitigate the risks involved.
Be Aware of High-Risk Locations
As mentioned previously, it’s important to be aware of higher-risk locations where COVID-19 cases are spiking. If you’re traveling into an area with higher infectious cases and you still decided to travel, take the proper precautions. Also, make sure you’re aware of each state or city’s travel advisories, which differ per location.
Ask About Safety Measures
Before you make it set in stone to travel, make sure to ask your loved ones what safety measures they’re upholding before you visit and what precautions they’ll be taking during the holiday gathering. If they’re not prioritizing COVID safety guidelines, you may want to reconsider your travel plans. This is especially true if you or someone you’re traveling with is susceptible to severe symptoms of the virus.
Maintain CDC COVID-19 Guidelines In Public
It’s important to practice COVID-19 safety if you’re taking public transportation. If you’re taking any transportation within a closed space with people other than who you live with, make sure to wear masks and wash your hands.
Basic COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
Whether you’re traveling or not, it’s important to remember the essential COVID-19 safety guidelines to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season and winter. Remember - these can also be cold and flu season safety tips so you can stay healthy all season long!
Here is a refresher:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing (at least six feet apart) while in public.
- Wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Remember, do not host or travel for any holiday gatherings if you or anyone in your household:
- Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others.
- Has symptoms of COVID-19.
- Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results.
- May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Additionally, do not host or attend gatherings with anyone who has COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days!
Holiday Safety Tips to Remember Year-Round
The holidays can pose some other dangers besides this year's pandemic. From house fires to tripping hazards, make sure you holiday-proof your home! Here are some general holiday safety tips to keep in mind:
- Prevent electrical fires by checking all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken.
- If buying an artificial tree, make sure it has a fire-resistant label. Keep it away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat.
- If getting a live tree, make sure it has enough water to keep it fresh. Dry and brittle trees can easily catch fire.
- Use battery-operated candles to help prevent house fires.
- Be careful when using ladders to hang lights and decorations.
- Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
- Make sure to turn off all Christmas lights when going to bed or leaving the house!
- Only hang stockings on the fireplace mantel if the fireplace is unlit.
Considerations for People at Increased Risk for Severe Illness
Certain groups are especially vulnerable to severe complications of the coronavirus, including many people with disabilities, so precautions can be taken to stay as safe as possible during the holiday season and beyond.
If you are a senior adult or a person with high risk health conditions who is at increased susceptibility of severe illness from the COVID-19 virus, the CDC advises that you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household. The same CDC COVID-19 precautions advise forgoing in-person gatherings if you live or work with someone who is at increased risk of illness to prevent infecting them.
If you are an older adult or have disabilities that makes you vulnerable to severe illness to the virus, there are a few alternatives you can take to still enjoy with holidays - safely. For instance, schedule a zoom meeting to see loved ones who may not live with you. Or, take a drive around the neighborhood to witness Christmas light displays, like this one in Boston, MA. Even if you may not be celebrating the holidays in person this year, there's still ways to get involved!
We at Disability Experts of Florida wish you a happy and healthy holiday and continue to support all people with disabilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. If you feel your rights have been violated or would like more information about disability benefits, speak with one of our compassionate advocates today!