This weekend my family and I finished setting up our tree and decorating for the holidays. For the first time, we opted to get a real tree, and there are things that we have to be careful to make sure in order to keep the house safe, which got me thinking about general holiday safety.
With the reduction in Public Safety Services, your first responders will always do their best to get to your emergency but the issue is that the fire and police departments may not be able to get there as quickly as before with the right number of people to help, so it becomes even more important for residents to practice the best safety procedures that they can. The holiday season is a time of celebration and joy, but are also a time when fire hazards and criminal activity are at their highest. So, I offer to every one the following tips to help keep your homes and families safe (and let’s keep the wreaths on the fire stations RED):
- Keep your doors and windows locked – this might seem like a no-brainer, but I’ll bet most have at least one window catch that isn’t locked.
- Don’t post to social media sites about your vacations – either those in the future or the ones you’re on now. You never know who’s looking at your status updates, announcing to the world that you aren’t home is inviting potential problems
- Make sure your garage door is closed – a cursory check of the house before bed helps to minimize potential problems.
- If you do go away for the holidays, have a trusted friend or family member check on the house every day – keep a couple of lights on (timers are a great investment that can make it appear that someone is home) If nobody is available, call the police department (dispatch non-emergency is 847-428-8784) and ask to have your home placed on a daily “house check” list – they’ll drive by every day, and often get out and walk around the outside to make sure everything is safe and secure.
- Real trees can dry out if not properly cared for while in your home. Please please please make sure to check the water level every day and add water and the appropriate solutions. If you aren’t sure about the right procedures, ask the vendor you purchase the tree from or call a local nursery (Platt Hill and Dundee Nursery are both in our town) A real tree offers a great smell in your home and looks awesome. But a dry tree is an EXTREME fire hazard and can seriously jeopardize your family’s ability to escape because of how fast they can spread fire.
- Extension cords should only be used IF absolutely necessary. They should be properly rated by UL for what you are using them for. It is recommended that you should use a power strip – they are ground faulted, so in the event that something overloads or overheats, the power strip should cut the power before a fire occurs. Using a power strip (which come in very long cords if needed) is the safest way to ensure your decorations are properly powered. Don’t leave extension cords plugged in when you are sleeping.
- Presents under the tree are exciting for everyone in the family – but too much clutter can make it very difficult to escape in the event of a fire, and can add a lot of fuel to a fire. Be sure that the presents around the tree don’t cause a hazard if you or your family need to get out.
- Holiday ceremonies often involve the use of candles or incense. Please be sure these are used properly, as they are often a source of holiday fires. Flames should not be near anything else that is flammable and should have a proper “dish” under them to catch the hot wax. Incense should be burned with the appropriate stands to again ensure safety, and they should always be done away from ignitable materials.
- Although it’s true every day of the year, the holidays are an especially important time to have a fire escape plan in place because of the increased risk that every household has. Develop an escape plan and practice it with your family members so they know what to do if the worst was to occur.
- With snow and ice brings trips and falls. Keep some salt and a shovel handy in the garage or by the front door, and spread the salt on your walkway going to the house when it’s icy out. If an emergency happens, the first responders will often use the shovel and salt to ensure they can safely get you out of the house and to where you need to go.
Finally, let’s remember that we’re all neighbors … we’re all a little guilty of paying too much attention to ourselves from time to time – let’s remember to check on our neighbors and make sure everything is ok. By pulling together as a community, we can make our holidays a more enjoyable time and ensure a happy and safe time for everyone!
Also, the Carpentersville Professional Firefighter’s Association is holding a winter coat drive for Saint Monica’s Church. If you can donate, please contact Art Carillo at Afire278@comcast.net. See the following link for more information: https://www.facebook.com/iafflocal4790/posts/770566139626773
Thanks everyone and have a happy and safe holidays!