Well, it’s that time again. At least here in the US, we are in that sweet spot between Halloween and the new year. You know – when the retailers push holiday sales earlier and earlier, and all of the Christmas decorations start going up – and not just in the stores!

It is also a time when we start to see and do things that we don’t normally do the rest of the year.

In the northern hemisphere – fall and winter are upon us. Even if we live in the northern part, we have spent the last six months not having to worry about snow and ice on the roads and walkways.

Even though “we were born and raised here,” the first few snowfalls present what we in HOP call an “infrequent or first-time task.” Something we don’t do very often, or something we haven’t done in over six months.

And remember, there is an entire set of new drivers that, while they may have been raised in the great white north – have NEVER had to drive by themselves in it and still manage their interaction with other vehicles. Watching our parents or friends drive in wintry or rainy conditions is NOT the same as having to do it.

This is also a time when we get together with more people in our homes and cook things that we don’t routinely cook.  Some of us get a bit experimental, some stick to what they cook every holiday season – but either way, it is not what we are used to doing.

There are more people around, and we try to cook more things than we normally do. Sometimes we exhaust ourselves just getting ready for a big meal.

My wife is a wonderful cook, and almost every year, she says, “this meal took ten times longer to get ready for than it did to eat it!”

My Robservation is that this time of the year, with bigger and more complex meals and family gatherings, it’s a perfect opportunity to use some of what we teach in human and organizational performance at home.

Talking about how to utilize some of the triggers and tools we learn at work in our homes reduces the probability that someone may get hurt (either physically or emotionally) during what can be a stressful time.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking, and most cooking fires in the home involve the kitchen stove1. It just makes sense that since during this time of year we are cooking more and different things, that we should prepare better and use the tools we have been equipped with to reduce risk.

Every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.2

And you may be saying, “no problem, I’m not frying a turkey, so this doesn’t apply to me…” but that’s not the right response… Instead, ask, “what is it that I (or we) WILL be doing that contains risks.” 

Where could we go as a resource to find out if the hazards are already known and what we can do about them? 

Set the example for your family and friends to be safer through their preparation and actions instead of just telling people to be safer and pay more attention.

Create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.3

Stop and seek out help when you become unsure or overwhelmed.

Please use the comments section to give other tips or lessons you have learned to manage risk at home during this time of year.  And remember – intentional leadership starts with you.

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