The Power of Prevention: Set an example, save lives during the holidays

November 30, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

With Thanksgiving now in the rear-view mirror, it is clear that the holiday season will look and feel different this year than it has any other year — and it should if we want to keep those we love safe and healthy.

For weeks now, experts have been advising the public to limit holiday celebrations to members of their immediate household. As difficult as it is to think about and adhere to the idea of not getting together with extended family and friends, the importance of keeping our distance from others right now cannot be overstated.

Equally important is wearing masks when we are in public, and when we are in close proximity to individuals — even family members, friends and neighbors — who live outside of our immediate household. Mounting evidence supports the fact that masks really do protect us and others from contracting and spreading COVID-19. Wearing a mask is a simple, lifesaving step.

As health care workers and members of the communities in which we work and live, we are in a unique position to influence those around us and make a real difference by practicing safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Be a holiday hero

This year, we can help protect others by initiating safe plans for the holidays.

Be a hero in your family by politely turning down invitations to gather at others’ homes. Let family members know that you are staying home because you love them and want to protect them. Get creative and dream up some unique new ways to share holiday cheer:

  • Make a plan to order gifts for each other online, or wrap and ship gifts in advance. Then schedule a time to gather on Zoom, Skype or another virtual meeting platform and take turns opening the gifts.
  • Surprise an elderly friend or family member by gathering members of your immediate household to serenade them, singing their favorite holiday carols over Zoom or the phone.
  • Find a pen and paper. Write a letter to a family member you would normally see during the holidays and share a special memory you have from time spent with them in the past, or describe something you look forward to doing with them in the future. Seal it, stamp it and send it in plenty of time to arrive for the holidays!

You can also be a hero in your friend group by planning fun and meaningful ways to connect virtually over the holidays:

  • Plan a game night on Zoom. Come up with a list of holiday items for a scavenger hunt. The person to collect and bring the most items back to the screen in a given amount of time wins!
  • Carry out a charity challenge. Reach out to your friend group with a challenge to do something nice for someone else during the holiday season. It could be anything, big or small. Set a timeframe. Then, schedule a virtual gathering during which each person reports to the group about their chosen act of charity. Doing good for others and then sharing that experience with friends is a great way to create warm holiday memories.
  • Participate in a holiday craft or cookie night. Search the internet for a holiday craft with instructions that you can share, or share your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Invite friends to gather the needed items in advance and meet online for a night of crafting or cookie decorating.

Be an advocate for safety

In addition to initiating and encouraging others to participate in safe holiday activities, one of the most important things we can all do is practice and promote effective prevention strategies.

Wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands are three strategies proven effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. You have the power to keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season and beyond by practicing each of these strategies consistently.

Keep others safe by setting the example.

The simplest way to exercise your power of prevention this holiday season is by sticking to the basic strategies known to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Have a happy, healthy New Year

Missing cherished time with family and friends will make this holiday season different and difficult for many. But, practicing prevention strategies now to protect ourselves and our loved ones from illness and suffering is the best way to ensure a happy, healthy New Year ahead.

Do you have any fun, creative and safe holiday plans? Let us know in the comments below or email them to headlines@med.umich.edu. They may be shared in a future edition of Headlines!

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