Eight 10-Minute Tips for a Safer Holiday Season

24 December, 2011

check list imageWe’re all about “keeping it easy” – goodness knows you’ve got plenty of other things to worry about during the holidays. While there are plenty of things you can and should do to ensure safety during this time of year, let’s just knock out of a quick list of fast things you can do to help. A “best bang for your buck” kind of list. Each item on this list should take no more than 10 minutes to accomplish, shouldn’t require any special tools or skills and have nothing in the way of setup or clean up. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.


  1. If you’re traveling by car: Check the spare tire and jack. Check that you’ve got a suitable emergency kit in the trunk for the number of people you’ll be traveling with.
  2. If you’re traveling at all, spend 10 minutes on the Internet and review your route. Is weather going to be a factor? Do you have an alternate route or plan available if there’s trouble? Will less-serious, but no-less-stressful, issues be a factor like traffic or road construction?
  3. If you didn’t do it back when we all rolled the clocks back for day-light-savings time, take a moment and check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  4. If you don’t already have suitable coverage, take 10 minutes and sign up for some kind of renters or home owners insurance. It won’t stop a home-destroying nightmare or anything like that, but it will make recovering so much easier. Most home owners are required to have some kind of coverage, but many renters do not. It’s not free, this is true, but it’s often much less expensive than you think.
  5. If you have lights up (or other electric decor), spend a moment and double check the connections. No frayed wires, no loose connections, etc. Maybe take a moment and confirm that you’re not exceeding the ratings for any outlets or power strips.
  6. Take a minute and double-check the DVR. Are all the shows you’re expecting to record scheduled? We focus a lot on lethal disasters here, but readiness means *all* kinds of coverage. If it will make you unhappy, if it will cause stress, don’t leave it to chance.
  7. Again, more for the travelers, but check your devices before you go. Is everything charged up? Do you have suitable travel-chargers for each device? If not, or if the device has some kind of mission-critical function (communications, navigation, etc), do you have a back-up solution? GPS’s are nice, but a traditional map won’t run out of power.
  8. If you’re not traveling, but expecting travelers, have you communicated with them recently about their travel plans? Do you know when they’re expected? How they were planning to travel? At what point should you become concerned? At what point should you start notifying authorities? Do you have all the information you need to pass to the authorities if you do?

We don’t need to beat our selves up this time of year; there’s already plenty of pressures on people. But do make a point to look out for yourself and your loved ones (and fellow-travelers and even strangers-in-need). A few minutes of preparation can prevent hours, or days, of misfortune. One of the stories that prompted me to start this site was that of James Kim and his family. Traveling during the holidays, when a series of easily prevented misfortunes struck and ultimately cost James his life.

One final word: Many, many people do find this to be a stressful or depressing time of the year in spite of, or because of, the cheerful messages normally associated with it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you’re feeling like it’s just too much, know that you’re not alone and that there are people and groups that are prepared to help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try any of the following:

Girls & Boys Town National Hotline  –  (800) 448-3000
National Hopeline Network – (800) SUICIDE
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) 273-TALK (8255)
National Youth Crisis Hotline – (800) 442-HOPE (4673)

(these, and other emergency numbers can be found at http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/common-hotline-phone-numbers/)

Anyone with Google can find countless articles about coping with the holidays, but here are two of my favorites:

The Mayo Clinic’s Tips for Coping with the Holidays http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030
WebMD’s 25 Ways to Find Joy & Balance   http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/25-ways-find-joy-balance-during-holidays

Okay, enough preaching about survival! As your webmaster, I command you to stop reading, go worth and enjoy! 🙂

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