Holiday Safety

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The 2020 Holiday Season will look different for many this year. Although this has been a stressful and challenging year for many, there are ways that families and friends can safely gather and celebrate. 

This page will provide some resources and tips for the holidays to reduce your risks of COVID, as well as general safety tips for the season. 

Holiday safety tips from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

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Updated CDC Guidance- 11/20

Travel

Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.

If you are considering traveling for Thanksgiving, here are some important questions to ask yourself and your loved ones beforehand. These questions can help you decide what is best for you and your family.

  • Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
  • Are cases high or increasing in your community or your destination? Check CDC’s COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases.
  • Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state and local public health department websites.
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.
  • During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel.

It’s important to talk with the people you live with and your family and friends about the risks of traveling for Thanksgiving.

If you do travel

illustration of people at an airport social distancing and using hand sanitizer

Everyone Can Make Thanksgiving Safer

Wear a mask

illustration of a young woman leaving home wearing a mask
  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

illustration of a person and child wearing masks standing six feet apart from a young woman wearing a mask

Wash your hands

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  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Attending a Gathering

illustration of a woman wearing a mask arriving for a gathering

Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving.

If you choose to attend a gathering, make your celebration safer. In addition to following the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer, take these additional steps if attending a Thanksgiving gathering:

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

illustration of friends gathering outdoors wearing masks and six feet apart

Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving.

If having guests to your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer. These steps include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Consider Other Thanksgiving Activities

Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you

illustration of a young family enjoying a virtual meal with an older couple
  • Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.

Watch television and play games with people in your household

  • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
  • Find a fun game to play.

Shopping

  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays.
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
  • Shop in open air markets staying 6 feet away from others and wear a mask.

Other Activities

  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).
  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.
illustration of a young man wearing a mask delivering a meal to an older woman

Festive-Thanksgiving-Taablescape-Ideas

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently. 
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away. 
  •  Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns. 
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags. 
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children. 
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child. 
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet. 
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle. 
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button

Resources are also available in multiple languages: click here to visit: 

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Teaching-tools/Safety-tip-sheets/Safety-tip-sheets-in-other-languages

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Black Friday/Holiday shopping tips: 

This year, the holiday shopping experience will be far different for everyone because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the primary changes this season is that retailers — both online and brick-and-mortar locations — have started their holiday specials early and will offer deals more often to avoid the rush of shoppers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, super sales with people camping outside in long lines and crowds jostling for the best deals may forever be a thing of the past.


Your holiday shopping strategy

With COVID-19 case rates rising throughout the country, creating a different plan for making your holiday purchases while avoiding potential exposure to people with the virus is a necessity. View Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Here are five tips to help you shop this holiday season:

  1. Shop early
    According to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade group, close to 60% of people plan to shift more of their shopping online compared with last year. This could lead to delays in manufacturing and delivery, so the earlier you place your orders, the more likely they are to make it to the recipient on time. Luckily, retailers have already begun to offer their special holiday deals, so you don’t have to wait to get the best prices.

  2. Avoid the crowds
    If you plan to shop in person, avoid the crowds and start your shopping well before Thanksgiving. Strategically planning your store visits for early in the morning on days early in the week can also allow you a little more room to browse without fear of others breaching your socially distant 6-foot space. This year, stores are also offering exclusive shopping reservations, delivery and curbside pickup, allowing you to avoid coming into contact with too many people.

  3. Stay local
    Do you have a favorite boutique or toy store in town? Maybe there’s a shop that you’ve driven by a dozen times, wondering what’s inside? Head to your local small businesses before shopping at larger chains. According to tracktherecovery.org, nearly 25% of small businesses in the U.S. have closed since January 2020. Holiday shopping offers the perfect opportunity to help the remaining small businesses thrive.

  4. Think outside the box
    Not all gifts have to be presented in a gift-wrapped box. Consider giving a gift card or certificate from a nearby restaurant, salon, spa or other local business. Hire a neighborhood kid to provide lawn cutting for a few months for a loved one. You can even offer to do some tasks yourself — walk the dog, make a meal or two, or be a weekly hiking buddy. Time and experiences, rather than stuff, are always a great way to go when it comes to gift giving.

  5. Do some good.
    Simply giving can be a gift too. Make a contribution to an organization or effort of special interest to your loved one. Whether you donate to a children’s or animal organization, support health care programs and services, contribute to a campaign, or even offset the carbon footprint of a trip they plan to take once travel restrictions are lifted, a gift that does some good is sure to be appreciated.
It’s important to remember that if you do plan to shop in person, make sure that you, the businesses you visit and their other patrons follow all COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Everyone should wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, maintain a 6-foot distance from others not from the same household, and frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Stay home if you are not feeling well or have been around someone who has COVID-19.