Holiday happenings

Take care, stay safety aware

By Kim Frum

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Making sure you practice good safety habits is important all year long, but especially at the holidays when you’re likely to be more harried and crunched for time. But don’t let the rush of the holiday season interfere with taking basic safety precautions that can protect friends and family — as well as postal employees.

For the Postal Service, the safety of our employees and the communities we serve is always a top priority.

In addition to making sure your carrier has a clear path to your door, there are other ways to keep both your carrier and other Postal Service employees safe during the holidays and year-round:

  • Don’t overpack shipping boxes.
  • Don’t send prohibited materials such as fireworks or ammunition. See Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail, for guidelines on what you can and can’t ship.

There are lots of things you can do around the home to help prevent or reduce injuries throughout the holidays and all year long. If you’re outside, take care to clear any snow or ice on steps, sidewalks and driveways, and around your mailbox. Also make sure to salt the cleared areas to prevent refreezing.

If you live someplace where it never snows, you still have to watch for outside hazards. Yard equipment, toys, and yard trimmings on the lawn, walkways or steps can cause a tripping hazard or serious injury. It may be easy for homeowners to notice and avoid such hazards, but your letter carrier may not. Many times, carriers may have their hands full of packages and could miss seeing obstacles in their path. It only takes a few moments to make sure your yard and sidewalks are clear of hazards to keep everyone safe.

There is one safety item that many overlook, and that is our four-legged family. As much as we adore our cats and dogs, they can pose an unfortunate hazard to people they don’t know.

Dogs pose a particular hazard as more than 5,800 postal employees and a staggering 4.5 million Americans were attacked by dogs last year. This unfortunate occurrence could be avoided much of the time if owners would take a few extra moments of precaution. The Postal Service participates in National Dog Bite Awareness Week every year. Here are a few tips to keep you, your carrier and your dog safe during the holidays and year-round:

  • If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Some dogs burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
  • Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the person handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
  • The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If a dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office location.

More information on all things holiday can be found in our Holiday Newsroom.

USPS Postmaster van illustration.