Celebrating the holidays puts us all in high spirits as we spread good cheer and happiness to everyone. We must remember that this festive season is also a time to be vigilant about home and personal safety. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Junkanoo, Karamu, or Festivus, we want you and your family to remain safe this Winter Holiday season by remembering these tips.
- Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable—such as potholders, towels or curtains—away from your stove top. Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.
Holiday Home Security:
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
- When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
- Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
- Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
- Turn off your alarm clock; your neighbors will appreciate it.
- Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall. This time of year, many of us like to decorate by bringing the outdoors in. While beautiful, some plants can cause a threat to children and pets. Holly can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic and urge guests to refrain from eating the decorations.
- For the ambiance of candle light, try flameless candles. If you choose to use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Extension cords used for temporary holiday decorations should be a minimum of 16 gauge wire, properly plugged into a wall outlet, and bear the UL or Underwriters Laboratory label.
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.
- Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles, and seat armrests.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots. Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician, and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Laminating the list will prevent it from being torn or damaged by accidental spills.
- Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Try to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps. This can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
- Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
- To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
- Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
- Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- When you travel, plan ahead! If traveling by vehicle, know where you are going and how to get there and back. Obtain a map or download the latest available GPS data. Check for construction detours; for longer trips, get a weather forecast.
- Travel and conduct your business during daylight hours if possible.
- To the extent practical, select well-traveled and lighted thoroughfares. Bear in mind that routes which are congested during rush hour may be very lightly traveled at other hours. Use freeways and arterial streets and avoid less-traveled roads as much as possible, especially when driving at night or in unfamiliar locations.
- When driving, keep doors locked and windows rolled up at all times. Maintain at least half a tank of fuel, and keep vehicle in good repair.
- If planning a “road trip” over the holidays, have your vehicle serviced and checked out sufficiently far ahead to allow for repairs if needed. Don’t forget to have the mechanic check your spare tire and all fluid levels along with the other preventive maintenance procedures.
- Consider keeping spare fuses and a “breakdown kit” in your vehicle at all times. Breakdown kits may be purchased from a variety of sources, or you can assemble your own at any auto parts or hardware store using a commercial version as a guideline.
Minimally, a “breakdown kit” should include:
- a thermal blanket/bag and a gallon of water
- a “HELP” sign/flag and flares/reflectors
- a flashlight (check batteries semi-annually)
- duct tape
In addition to your basic “breakdown kit” you should also have a basic first aid kit in your vehicle at all times.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
- Dress casually and comfortably.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Always carry your Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
- Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
- Keep cash in your front pocket.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
- Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Be extra careful with your wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses, and other rapid transit.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
Following these tips will help keep you and your family safe, happy, and able to enjoy the holiday season. Hope everyone has a great holiday season.