9 Tips to Stay Safe This Festive Season
Hurray! It’s Christmas, but with nearly over 65 million people around the world having been infected with the COVID-19 virus that has, tragically, killed more than 1.5 million people. Many more have been left with long term health problems.Unfortunately, the need to protect our loved ones from COVID-19 will continue throughout the festive period.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people who fall sick with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment. How does it spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.
These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth.
This festive period is one time where we can be safe and protect not just ourselves but also members of our family, friends and the general public. Staying safe is important, and no matter how hard it can be, we are sure you want to see the next year 2021 together with those whom you love. So how can you stay safe?
Here are our top tips to stay safe:
1. Spot all the symptoms of COVID-19
There’s more to COVID-19 than the three ‘classic’ symptoms of fever, persistent cough and loss of smell or taste. One in five people never have these. So although we have logged over 20 symptoms related to COVID, you should also look out for these:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pains
- Confusion (delirium)
- Skin rash
If you develop any symptoms that might be COVID-19, don’t take a risk – you and your household must isolate immediately and ideally get a test as soon as possible.
2. Test your senses
Loss of smell or taste is one of the key early symptoms of COVID-19 and is the best predictor of infection. You can easily test yourself every day by taking a good sniff of something strong-smelling, such as coffee or scented candles or soap.
4. Stick to your Christmas bubble
Make sure you follow the guidelines on social gatherings in your area. Avoid mixing too much between households and, in the UK, stick to your ‘Christmas bubble’. Guidelines differ between areas, so make sure to stay up to date with the latest rules for your area here. (UK)
Even if you follow all the rules, there’s still a risk you might transmit the virus to vulnerable friends or family members.
5. Elbow bump your Gran this Christmas
She’s dying for a kiss and a cuddle, but opt safer ways to show affection to family members, like bumping elbows or sending an air kiss from across the room.
Social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and wearing a face covering can all help protect your loved ones and stop the virus from spreading.
Many people who catch coronavirus don’t develop any symptoms, but they can still be infectious and pass it on to other people. We know it’s tough, but try and limit close contact like hugging and kissing.
6. Celebrate outdoors
Ventilation is an important factor in disease spread. Because COVID-19 spreads in small airborne droplets, transmission is easier in closed, indoor environments.
Research has shown that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection by over 70%. If you can, take your gathering outside to the garden or open as many windows as possible. Walking daily with the family outside as much as possible is another way to stay healthy.
7. Eat well and be merry
It’s been a strange year, and we all deserve some time to relax and enjoy some Christmas cheer. Eating well to nourish your body and look after your gut health will help you stay healthy through the festive season.
One of the best ways to support your microbiome is to make sure you eat a diverse range of plants. Luckily this includes many traditional Christmas staples like Brussels sprouts, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, mixed nuts and fruits and berries as well as fermented foods like cheese. Even dark chocolate and red wine (in moderation) are good for your gut health – so tuck in and enjoy!
8. Staying safe online
If you have ordered gifts online this Christmas, beware of email scams. During the festive season, crafty criminals often create emails that appear as though they are from popular retailers such as Amazon. The email might appear completely genuine, simply saying than order has been dispatched, or that you need to confirm a payment. But it’s important that you question these emails before opening them. Although criminals may be able to forge the sending email address to look like a genuine Amazon email address, the details of who the email is addressed to may differ. For example, rather than your first or full name, it might say ‘Dear Customer’.
9. Don’t leave food in the oven overnight
When you’re preparing to have guests over for dinner over the Christmas period, and are short on time, it can be tempting to leave something in the oven overnight or cooking while you pop out to run errands. But this is a huge fire hazard. Under no circumstances should food be left cooking unattended. If you are short of time, ask friends or family members if they’d be able to help with some aspects of a Christmas dinner – that way you won’t feel as though you need to rush.
“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” the classic tune says, and indeed, as we navigate the winter holiday season in the COVID-19 era, experts across the country have insisted that staying home is the best and safest option. That doesn’t make it sting less, though. After months of isolation, economic anxiety, and pandemic fatigue, it’s completely understandable that people are yearning for hugs from family members and huge amounts of carbohydrates.
The reality is that hosting large parties, traveling to see friends and family, and brushing off masks and social distancing can have serious consequences that extend far outside of your own circle; the majority of COVID-19 cases may result of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission. The good news: With some modifications, you can still make the most out of the “most wonderful time of the year.”
“We’re in a very difficult time, it presents a wonderful opportunity to be creative, put family and friendship first, and celebrate the good things we have. During this once-in-a-generation moment, it’s an act of love to keep your friends and families safe — for as long as it takes,” said Richard C. Wender, MD, chair of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the need to protect our loved ones from COVID-19 and other things will continue throughout the festive period and beyond. We hope you have a safe celebration and hey: Happy Holidays!