In this season of peace on Earth and goodwill to every man, woman and child, we should take a timeout to think about staying healthy and alive.

Amid the celebrations and family gatherings there is something everyone needs to be aware of — the holiday season, while being festive, can also be very dangerous.

We don’t mean to stifle your holiday buzz, but every year about this time we feel compelled to remind readers about being too distracted or careless to be careful.

Here’s a sobering fact: Between Christmas Eve and the end of New Year’s Day, an average of about 60 Americans die each day in car crashes, and a majority of those highway fatalities involve an impaired driver, mostly due to the consumption of too much alcohol. That can be major problem on North County’s twisty, back-country roads.

Driving when you are tired, impaired or distracted is flat-out perilous, but when you toss in seasonal visibility issues, the potential for fog or other tricky road conditions, coupled with the typical personal pressures and anxieties that come with every holiday season, this month turns out to be one of the most dangerous to be on the road.

Impaired driving is a major problem. Year-end parties typically involve consumption of alcohol and sometimes the use of drugs. Believe us and the transportation experts, impaired driving is a frequent killer.

If you are going to imbibe away from home, designate a sober driver. It’s a small thing that could save your life, or the lives of your loved ones.

Car crashes aren’t the only holiday problem. For example, you’ve probably already done some indoor and outdoor decorating for the holiday season. Sounds benign enough — except hospital emergency rooms typically treat tens of thousands of injuries caused by people falling off ladders, rooftops and other high places, all the result of careless mistakes or faulty equipment used while putting up holiday lights.

Then there is the issue of selecting proper gifts for children, and by “proper” we mean toys and other items that won’t cause injury or death.

For the little ones, avoid giving toys with small parts that can turn into a choking hazard. For older family members and friends, select presents that don’t weigh a ton or are too awkward to handle safely.

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Nearly 20 percent of household fires caused by candles each year occur in December, which makes sense because candles are an integral part of the holiday season. To avoid a candle fire tragedy, never leave a burning candle unattended — especially with small children around — and never go to sleep with a lit candle in the house.

Another holiday problem is food poisoning, usually the result of improperly prepared or stored goodies. Things get hectic, and sometimes raw food is left unattended for too long. Pay attention in the kitchen, and when dealing with turkey and other holiday meats, wash your hands frequently.

OK, so we may sound a lot like your Grandma, warning everyone about holiday safety. But the truth is, Grandma has been around for a few years, and has witnessed many, if not all of the dangers lurking behind a holiday party or family dinner. She has learned from experience, and just wants to make sure the people she cares about have a safe and happy holiday season.

That is our wish, too, and the reason we deliver this message every holiday season. Have fun, celebrate and enjoy all the wonders of the holidays — but most important of all, be around for a happy and healthy 2018.

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