The winter holidays are times for celebration, with more cooking, home decorating, and entertaining, also with an increased risk of fire, accidents, and theft. Guardian Elite recommends these guidelines to help make your holiday season more safe and enjoyable.
Identifying vulnerable areas in your home or family safety will drastically reduce the chances of an emergency happening.
Home Safety and Security
- If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers or post your itinerary on Facebook or other social networking sites. Remember to only post where you’ve been, not where you’re going or how excited you will be to spend 2 weeks with family in another state.
- Use your home burglar alarm system.
- Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Make sure they know where the emergency water and gas shutoffs are located.
- Check all the batteries in your smoke detectors
- Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
- Joining miles of extension chords is never a good idea. Overloading circuits increases risk of electrical fires that may begin behind walls.
- Carefully inspect light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask Guardian Elite for a holiday inspection.
- Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples--don't use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
- Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
- 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.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Do not repair with electrical tape, discard and purchase new.
- Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to decorate a tree. Tinsel and other artificial icicles should be plastic and non-leaded metals.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
- Avoid ornaments that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his or her mouth.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
- Check your kitchen fire extinguisher for readiness or charge and location. Store in a easily accessable location that is away from cooking area and can be accessed by anyone.
- Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
- Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what the fire escape plan is.
- When frying turkeys or other large items, make sure this is done in a secluded area where small children do not have access before, during or after frying. DO NOT FRY FROZEN TURKEY'S!!!! Grease holds high temperatures well after use and can be tipped over by small children easily.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire-resistant."
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters.
- Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
- Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
- Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't tip over easily.
- Turn tree lights off before going to bed. Use timers to turn on lights for dawn and to turn off at bed time.
Fireplaces and space Heaters
- Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
- Make sure the flue is cleaned at the beginning of the season
- Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely. Loose embers may drift out of the fireplace into the living area.
- Space heaters are especially dangerous during the colder months. Extra caution should be used when children or pets are around. Have these devices inspected and serviced prior to use.
Toys and Ornaments
- Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
- Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
- Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
- Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
- Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
- Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
- Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
- Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
- Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
- Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
- Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
- With the cool months upon us, extra caution should be used around pools. Covers over pools are extremely dangerous for children, pets, and even adults to fall on or slip under.
- Practice your family emergency plans ahead of time and make your children, neighbors and/or family members are aware of your safety plan if they are a key element to the plan (ie. meeting place, shelter, etc) If you do not have a plan, allow Guardian Elite to help develop a custom safety plan for your Family.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member. If you must walk to your car in the dark, ask a sales associate or security officer to escort you. Most will be happy to assist.
- Dress casually and comfortably. (It is not easy to run or fight an aggressor in heals)
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
- Only carry your Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use. (social security cards, passports or other documents you aren’t planning to use, may only cause you more problems if stolen)
- Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Credit transactions are much easier to refund and keep track of.
- 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 with the emergency phone numbers to the credit companies. This makes reporting and blocking much faster.
- Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. Use shoulder straps.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. Periodically deposit shopping bags to your vehicle and secure in the trunk if possible.
- 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. They usually work in teams, so be weary of a “distracter”.
The entire Guardian Elite team wishes a safe and happy Holiday Season for you, your family, and loved ones!!http://guardianelite.org/holiday-safety-tips.html