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Keep Your Holidays Safe This Season

Published Saturday, December 15, 2012

BRADENTON – The Christmas holidays can be a dangerous time of year. From increased fire hazards caused by lighted decorations to a higher frequency of home invasions as more people visit family, leaving their house vacant for extended periods, risk abounds. Here are some tips for keeping your family and home safe this holiday season.

Going out of town for the holidays? Did you know that a house, apartment, or condominium in the United States is burglarized once every 15 seconds according to the FBI? State Farm Insurance says that taking a few simple precautions can dramatically reduce the risks of an invader gaining access to your home.

    Use automatic timers on lights when on vacation.
    Always park your cars in the garage with the garage door shut. A burglar may otherwise notice a pattern that a closed garage door or no cars in the driveway means no one is home.
    If possible, have your telephone calls forwarded when you are away from home.
    Have a trusted neighbor pick up the mail and newspaper. If possible, do not have either stopped.
    Have a plan in place to have the grass mowed or snow shoveled.
    If you are away from home on garbage pickup day, ask a trusted neighbor to put your garbage cans out to the street and take them back in.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following 10 safety tips as a guide for safe decorating this year:

Trees and Decorations:

  •     When purchasing a live tree, DO check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  •     When setting up a tree at home, DO place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Because heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, be sure to monitor water levels and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.
  •     When purchasing an artificial tree, DO look for the label, "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate that the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
  •     In homes with small children, DO take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.


Lights:

  •     Indoors or outdoors, DO use only lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.
  •     Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. DON'T use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  •     If using an extension cord, DO make sure it is rated for the intended use.
  •     When using lights outdoors, DO check labels to be sure that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.


Candles:

  •     Keep burning candles within sight. DO extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
  •     DO keep candles on a stable heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Lighted candles should be away from items that can catch fire and burn easily, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains, and furniture.

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