State officials offering residents tips to help avoid holiday disasters

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CHICAGO - Illinois officials are offering residents a few tips to help avoid some common disasters that happen throughout the holiday season, such as fire, accidents, and injuries.

Illinois Department of Insurance officials say many of the injuries that occur during the holiday season are caused when individuals fall while decorating their homes.  You are advised to use a ladder or step stool for out-of-reach decorating, and to ask someone to help by being there in case you lose your balance and fall.

Additionally, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is reminding residents to check the smoke alarms in their homes.  Residents can also take measures to minimize the risk of a fire in their homes by making sure that any flammable material is kept away from fire or heat sources.  Holiday lights should also be checked for frayed wires, and should be turned off before going to bed.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials say food should be cooked to a temperature of at least 165 degrees in order to kill off most bacteria that cause food poisoning, and to make sure food is not left unrefrigerated for longer than two hours.  IDPH officials also say that certain foods, such as raw oysters, drinks and food made with unpasteurized eggs, and rare or raw meat should be avoided to help minimize the chances of getting food poisoning.

Finally, Illinois Department of Transportation officials say no one should drive drunk or after drinking too much, and that no one should text while driving.  Homeowners should not allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, as they could find themselves liable if that underage guest leaves the house, drives drunk, and causes an accident.  Officials say hosts should insist that the guest stays the night or call a taxi in order to ensure the guest does not drive if they have had too much to drink.

Unfortunately, not all holiday disasters are avoidable.  If you do have a mishap, Illinois Department of Insurance officials say they can help with the claims process.  For more information, call (866) 445-5364 or visit http://insurance.illinois.gov/Main/Claims_Process.asp.
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