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Home : News : News
NEWS | Nov. 27, 2018

Commentary: beware the hidden danger of the holidays

By Seaman Apprentice Jack Lepien USS George Washington Public Affairs

Children are singing, there’s cheer in the air, bells are a-ringing, and the weather is fair. The holidays are finally upon us, and with them comes not only joy and mirth, but also an increase in crime sprees and foodborne illnesses.

Around this time of year, people buy expensive gifts and travel to see family, but these seasonal habits leave people open to seasonal dangers.

According to Senior Chief Petty Officer Mark L. Collins, during the weeks leading up to Christmas and after, theft becomes more common, due to the increased purchase of expensive items such as televisions, game stations, and jewelry.

“We see a lot of break-ins, especially after you go shopping and leave the boxes for expensive things, such as TVs and Xbox’s, outside for the trash,” Collins said. “If you have any boxes, break them down and dispose of them properly.”

Vehicles also become a target for thieves.

“You can protect your car by always keeping it locked,” Collins said. “Don’t leave things like weapons, purses, wallets, or anything that has your information on it in your car when you’re not in it.”

The dangers of theft are not only for things already purchased, however. There are risks while shopping, especially at big events like Black Friday.

“It’s best to bring a friend to watch your back,” Collins said. “Always keep your head on a swivel. When you go shopping, try not to shop with wads of cash. A card is safer and less likely to be physically stolen.”

While paying attention to your surroundings can help protect against theft, it’s not the only danger during the holidays. Petty Officer 2nd Class Amber Elbert, S-5 damage control petty officer, says that food also poses a significant health risk around this time of year.

“Focus on making vegetables and other healthy foods,” Elbert said. “People tend to load up on sweets and fatty foods. You should focus on high protein, low-fat meats like turkey.  Dessert is tricky, and pie is pretty bad for you, but if you’re looking for a healthier dessert, the tarts that are made with real, fresh fruit aren’t too bad for you.”

Aside from healthy eating habits, proper food preparation is also key.

“Always, always make sure that you cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 160 degrees,” Elbert said. “If not, your guests can catch all kinds of diseases. Use clean equipment and wash your hands, especially if you’ve been outside, or playing with kids or pets. It’s also cold and flu season, so be very careful with that.”

Whether staying home or traveling, cooking a meal or having a meal cooked for you, this is the time of year to be extra mindful of your surroundings and watch out for the potential hidden dangers of the holidays.