The Florida Department of Health is offering advice on how to go about the holiday season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While old traditions may need tweaking this year, here’s how you can help keep your family and friends safe.
As far as gathering for holiday celebrations, the Florida DOH suggests groups consider holding events outside rather than inside, and insists all individuals sanitize or wash their hands frequently. Older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions are advised to forego in-person gatherings with people other than those who live in their household.
For those traveling this holiday season, the department advises to distance from high-risk individuals, and if feeling ill, get tested for COVID-19 and avoid gatherings. Individuals shouldn’t travel if they feel sick. Even symptoms are mild, individuals risk spreading the virus to others. Also, wear a mask and social distance as much as possible on the way to and from destinations.
Hosting? Add this to the list: Make sure to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces used by guests before and after gatherings, the DOH says.
The DOH also recommends getting a flu shot for anyone older than six months. The department advises to get vaccinated two weeks before traveling, since it can take a couple weeks for the vaccine immunity to develop.
Preventing the spread of illness is not DOH’s only advisory.
For those planning to cook a turkey this year, the department reminds to defrost it at a safe temperature by putting it in a leak-proof container in the refrigerator, in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (water should be changed every 30 minutes) or in the microwave. Don’t defrost the meat at room temperature.
Home chefs should also make sure to avoid cross contamination by using separate utensils for raw foods. Again, the department urges frequent hand washing.
Some say the best part of Thanksgiving might be the leftovers. DOH recommends refrigerating them within two hours.
The DOH also gave tips to ward off that quarantine-fifteen for the holidays, suggesting smaller servings of foods high in fat, salt and sugar by balancing them with lean meats, whole grains, fruits and veggies. The DOH also recommends maintaining physical activity during the holidays.
Nothing gets you in the holiday mood like a roasting marshmallows over a nice, warm fire. But, nothing ruins a holiday quicker than having your home go up in flames. That’s why the DOH urges that fireplaces, space heaters, candles, stove tops and ovens are not left unattended.
For those planning to put up a fresh tree post-Thanksgiving, the DOH reminds to water it daily — when dry that beautiful pine can become a major fire hazard.
For more information on how to stay safe this holiday season, visit Florida’s DOH site.