This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

The holidays are a time to spend with family, enjoy the company of friends and to be grateful. Get-togethers, traveling, lack of exercise and indulgent eating creates more opportunities for exposure to germs and illness, Leslie Felts, Kenai Public Health nurse manager, said.

“People are getting together, traveling and not eating and exercising like they normally do,” Felts said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of tips to help Americans stay healthy over the holidays. The CDC advises people to wash your hands often, which Felts said is very simple, but very effective.

Staying warm is important, the CDC said cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Felts said to wear a coat whenever you’re going outside.

“It’s easy to run out and get a little cold and wet in between your car and the store,” Felts said. “If you’ve already been exposed (to germs and illness), then you’re more exposed (to germs and illness) when you’re cold.

Keeping a balance of work, home and play are important in managing stress, the CDC said.

Traveling safely, whether that be on foot, in a vehicle or across the country, can prevent illness and injury. Felts said when walking outside in the dark, be aware of ice and make sure to wear something reflective or bright to avoid accidents. When driving, be aware of icy roads and dark driving conditions.

With an abundance of parties and feasts during the holidays, make sure the food you’re preparing is handled safely, the CDC suggests. Eating healthy and staying active can be a part of the holidays.

“Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music,” the CDC website states.

Other tips to stay healthy and safe is to be smoke-free and avoid breathing in other people’s smoke and to be current with vaccinations.

“I’m always going to say this, but get vaccinated,” Felts said. “Make sure children are up to date.”

More info on how to stay healthy and safe during winter can be found on the CDC’s website.

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