Emily Jewkes, Bear River Health Department 

EVEN AS PARENTS and caregivers continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the holidays are still one of the
most exciting times of the year. This year’s festivities will look a little different and call for creative alternatives that are both fun and follow local COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate this holiday season, here are a few ways to make safety a part of your planning:

Families are on the go, running errands, going shopping, and taking road trips to visit relatives and friends. Here are tips for keeping your kids safe during holiday travel:

• Everybody needs their own restraint. Make it a rule: everyone buckled, every ride, every time, whether it’s the long
trip to visit family or around the block to the mall. Remember, kids will do what you do — so buckle up every time.
• If you are flying, take your car seat with you and use it on the plane. It will be a benefit to have it with you at your destination and when you travel to and from the airport. Rent or borrow a car seat or booster seat if you can’t take your child’s with you.
• Watch out for small kids and distracted drivers in parking lots that are busier than usual during the holidays.
• Remind your new teen driver to be extra alert during the holidays when people are more distracted and the weather can be tricky.
• Plan to use a designated driver or rideshare to make sure you get home safely after celebrating.
• Avoid distractions while driving. No text or playlist is worth the risk of taking your eyes off the road. Set your GPS to “voice activated” so you can concentrate on driving without having to look at your phone.
• Secure loose objects. Put hot foods, large gifts, and anything else that could fly around in a crash in the trunk.
• Prepare for weather emergencies by packing extra blankets, food, and diapers. Keep your phone charged and make sure someone at your destination knows the route you are planning to take. Keep car exhaust pipes clear of packed snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

With holidays come more baking and cooking in the home. Here are a few safety tips to remember while baking some of your favorite treats:

• Teach your children to stay a safe distance from hot stoves and appliances.
• Avoid carrying or holding a child while cooking on the stove.
• Kids love to reach. Use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
• Remind yourself to check on food frequently by using a timer, especially when baking or simmering.
• Make sure appliance cords are coiled away from counter edges. Also, make sure hot foods are away from the edge.
• Stay close when you are using a grill or turkey fryer.
• Wear short, close-fitting or tightly-rolled sleeves when cooking.
• Take a minute to test your smoke alarms.

COVID-19 means more time at home. This is especially true coming into the colder months ahead. With more time spent in the home, there is a greater opportunity for family bonding. Spending time together as a family has many
benefits. Some of those benefits are building a child’s self-esteem, developing positive behaviors, encouraging communication, helping your child academically, and teaching social and friendship skills. Here are a few activities you can do as a family while staying home:

•Board games
• Video games like Just Dance that involve
the whole family
• Play hot lava (a favorite at our house)
• Build a fort in your living room
• Camp out in your living room
• Go for a walk or hike
• Bake treats and have a decorating contest
• Geocache
• Cook meals together and try new foods
• Eat meals together and have table topics to keep the conversation going
• Take turns letting a member of the family choose dinner
• Friday movie nights with homemade pizza
• Have a parent read a story to the family; a series can be fun to read for a few months
• Color or draw
• Try a new exercise or sport together, e.g., yoga, tennis, pickleball There are so many things to do together as a family. Use this time to help strengthen relationships with those you love!