Health tips Avoiding 3 Common Holiday Pitfalls Posted Monday, Dec 5, 2016 | by beth Share Tweet Share Everyone seeks good health, peace and happiness in the holiday season. To that end, the SoFHA medical team wishes to highlight three common pitfalls that people sometimes ignore. Keep these in mind as you prepare for and partake in holiday festivities and seasonal travel. Pitfall ONE: Be mindful of harmful food-borne bacteria that could be present at holiday buffets and meals. Remember to apply two basic rules when serving or partaking in seasonal food fare: Always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria can double every 20 minutes in food at room temperature. Hot foods should be maintained at a temperature of 140 °F in slow cookers or chafing dishes. Keep cold foods at 40 °F or colder by putting them in dishes nested in ice. Remember the two-hour rule: Don’t leave perishable food at room temperature for more than two hours, or bacteria can start to grow. If you can’t recall how long the apple salad (made with mayonnaise) has been out, don’t risk making your guests sick: Throw it out. Pitfall TWO: Make sound electrical decisions when decorating your home. Don’t put your home and family members at risk by being more interested in sparkle and glitz than in heeding good common-sense electrical safety. One good example: Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. The Electrical Safety Foundation International, based in Arlington, Virginia, has posted a downloadable flyer online that lists the 10 most important safety rules to follow when decorating. Click on “In The Right Light – Decorate Your Home Safely During the Holidays” to review. It could save your life or the lives of family members. Pitfall THREE: Don’t forget to protect yourself from germs during air travel. The problem areas on airplanes are the chair upholstery, the tray table, the armrests and the toilet handle, where bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli can live for up to a week if aircraft cabins aren’t properly cleaned. This is what microbiologists and engineers at Auburn University (Alabama) uncovered after conducting a two-year study in 2014. Take the following precautions when flying so you’ll be less likely to come into contact with dangerous bacteria: Always carry alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. Take time to decontaminate where you’re sitting by using a disinfectant wipe to clean the armrest and tray table. Use a tissue or a paper towel to open bathroom doorknobs and touch toilet handles. Avoid touching your hands to your face at all times, particularly your eyes, as tear ducts are a fast route for germs to the nose and throat. Have a beautiful holiday season everyone!