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Holiday Safety Tips – Griswold Style!

Holiday Safety Tips – Griswold Style!

For many of us, the holiday season is rich with nostalgia.

As a safety professional, my nostalgia starts and stops each year with good ol’ Clark W. Griswold, the character played by Chevy Chase in the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

What safety lessons can we learn from the Griswold family and apply in our own lives at work or home?

Cousin Eddie: Gas Safety

Remember Clark and Ellen, looking out their front window, watching Cousin Eddie disposing waste from his RV into the storm sewer, all while smoking a cigar? There are so many environmental and safety hazards there, where do you even start? Luckily, Eddie did not blow up the Griswold neighborhood, as Clark feared. This scene reminds me of a few things you can do to protect yourself and your family from dangerous gases.

We all know about smoke detectors to warn us of fire; there is less awareness of devices detecting carbon monoxide and other flammable gasses. When we use internal combustion engines and flame-heat sources in an enclosed space—furnaces, fireplaces, temporary heaters, or gas powered forklifts—we risk exposure to carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas you cannot see or smell. For prevention and alarm for your home or shop environment, I strongly recommend purchasing a carbon monoxide detector! Be sure to purchase carefully and read the fine print on the package. Also, pay special attention to the parts per million (PPM) alarm threshold. Depending on the manufacturer, CO alarms may sound at different levels. Pick the detector with the lowest PPM number, keeping in mind Federal OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 50 PPM over an 8-hour period. Know that some states have adopted lower exposure numbers.

If you are already shopping for a CO detector, do yourself a favor and upgrade to a combined flammable gas and carbon monoxide detector, often called a ‘3-in-1’ or ‘multi-gas detector’. These detectors will sound an alarm for natural gas, methane, and propane exposures, in addition to monitoring carbon monoxide levels.

Whether you are choosing smoke, carbon monoxide, or combination gas detection units, remember the following:

Clark W. Griswold: A Study in Ladder Safety Training

Oh, Clark! We know you wanted to impress the family, including Aunt Bethany and Uncle Lewis, with a best-in-the-neighborhood Christmas lighting display. However, using any ladder improperly, as you did, was a risk not worth taking!

Here is what I’d tell Clark…what would you tell him?

Any film buffs spot Clark practicing other unsafe ladder uses?

“Sparky”: Electrical Safety for the Holidays

Ellen was the one who finally figured out that the overloaded outlet was powered by an adjacent switch on the wall. What can we can teach Ellen and the rest of the Griswold family about electrical safety in this holiday season?

In no particular order, here are some tips:

As a safety professional, Clark and the whole Griswold family offer us many safety tips beyond the three listed here. If you are looking to engage employees this holiday season, consider using these tips and others you remember from the movie as a guide for work and home.

A few years ago, I used some of these tips at our HSI Learning Systems family holiday party. With each tip, we gave away multi-gas detectors, heavy duty extension cords, and portable GFCI units.

Have fun and model safe practices (unlike Clark) this holiday season!

Learn more about safety training online.

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