Living and Wellness What to Do When Illness or Injury Strikes During the Holidays By UPMC, December 12, 2016 For many, the holiday season is a busy time — filled with family, friends, and more than a few festive gatherings. It’s also a pretty inopportune time for an unexpected injury or illness. Fortunately, the experts at UPMC are available to get your season back on track. Our extensive network of services and providers are always close by and ready to treat any unforeseen ailments that strike during the holidays. How to Cope with Holiday Illness and Injuries First, consult our list of outpatient services, including UPMC emergency departments and walk-in clinics in western Pennsylvania to find out where you can receive immediate medical care. Then, combat seasonal health hazards before they occur with these tips from our experts. Learn Food Safety Essentials If the holidays mean you’re spending extra time in the kitchen, be sure you’re following safe food prep guidelines to prevent food-related illness. Keep your hands and kitchen surfaces washed and clean. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Put any leftovers in the fridge as soon as the meal is over (do not leave perishables out for more than two hours). You’re prepared for the holidays with a full list of UPMC emergency departments. Prevent Seasonal Sniffles The common cold and seasonal flu are more likely to occur during or close to the winter months. Fortunately, a few simple steps can prevent the spread of illness. If someone is coughing or wiping his or her nose, avoid hugs, kisses, and close contact. Cover your own coughs and sneezes. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Stay home from work or social outings when you’re sick. Get a seasonal flu shot to prevent illness. Avoid Common Kitchen Injuries The holidays mean more time in the kitchen and more chances of getting cut from a knife or burned from the stove or oven. Stay focused on what you are doing in the kitchen. Slice away from your hand and keep your fingers clear of the knife’s blade. Stay nearby when food is cooking. Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking, and keep dish towels, food packaging and other items away from stovetops and heated surfaces. Safely Deck the Halls Prepping your house for the holidays can come with its own health hazards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises extra caution when decorating for the season. If inhaled, artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs. Avoid Christmas tree decorations that are sharp and breakable. Don’t burn wrapping paper in a fireplace or open flame. These materials can ignite suddenly and burn intensely. Never use electric lights on a metallic Christmas tree.