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Tips For Having a Healthy and Safe Holiday

Baltimore County Department of Health
6401 York Road, Third Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21212-2130  

Phone: 410-887-BCHD (2243)
TTY users call via Maryland Relay

Ensure that your family has a healthy and safe holiday by following these safety tips.

Food Safety

The Baltimore County Department of Health urges residents to take extra caution when preparing foods this holiday season. To help ensure that holiday foods are not only delicious, but also safe to eat, we suggest taking these steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses:

  • Clean: Wash hands and food-contact surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, and counter tops.

  • Separate: Don't cross-contaminate: Don't let bacteria spread from one food product to another. This is especially true for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Experts caution to keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

  • Cook: Cook to a safe internal temperature. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods.

  • Chill: Refrigerate promptly to keep most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40° Fahrenheit and the freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit. The accuracy of the settings should be checked occasionally with a thermometer.

  • Leftovers: Leftovers are a great part of the holidays, but be sure to limit the time you keep them. Leftovers may be stored for up to seven days in a refrigerator cooling at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Always remember, "When in Doubt – Throw it Out!"

For more household food safety information visit:

Safe Party Tips

Holidays are a time of family, friends and celebrations. When hosting a gathering, take steps to ensure your guests safety both during and after the celebration. For ideas and information see our safe party tips and our non-alcoholics beverages menu.

Toy Safety

Purchasing age-appropriate toys this holiday season can be an easy task when using the tips below. Remember, toys should not only be age-appropriate, but they should also be checked for any potential hazards. Keep your children safe by selecting safe toys (PDF).

Safe toys are:

  • Made with smooth, soft edges and soft material such as cloth.
  • Made without strings or elastic more than 12 inches long.
  • Strong and do not have loose buttons, eyes, or other small parts that could choke a child under three years old.
  • Designed for the child's age. Check the toy's label to see what age it is made for. The age on a toy’s label is not based on how clever a child is but on safety facts such as the risk for choking.
  • Not made of small parts. Small parts could make your child choke.
  • Not recalled. Toys that contain lead or are found to be unsafe will be recalled.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains a complete listing of recalled toys.

Personal and Travel Safety

  • Be prepared for local, domestic or international travel.
  • Baltimore County Police offer several Crime Prevention and Community Outreach Programs.
  • If you have questions specific to your area, contact your local precinct.

Pet Safety

Pets enjoy the holiday festivities too! Use the following tips to help ensure your pets stay healthy and safe:


Poisonous (Toxic) Plants

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Amaryllis

Kitten and Puppy Proof the Home

  • Cover outlets
  • Cover electric cords
  • Keep toilet seat cover down
  • Put away toxic cleaners
  • Keep candles and menorahs out of reach
  • Avoid burns by closing fireplace screens

Christmas Tree Tips

  • Tie to ceiling if possible
  • No tinsel
  • No glass ornaments
  • Keep decorations up high on tree
  • Anchor with fishing line to wall or railing
  • Cover the tree’s water supply

Visitors and Travel

  • Keep identification on pet in case he slips out the door
  • Designate a “quiet room” for pets when entertaining guests
  • Confine pets while holiday parties occur in the home
  • Prepare a pet Emergency Kit

For more information on pet safety tips visit:

Revised September 2, 2016         


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