Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:13

Holiday Safety Tips

Written by  Brian A, O'Connell
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Keep Santa Safe this Christmas
Keeping Santa and His Helpers Safe This Holiday Season 
 
The holidays are an exciting time of year. However, decorating, traveling and even cooking can pose some safety risks. Taking simple preventative measures will help you and Santa Claus stay safe during this joyous season.

Santa Got Stuck in My Chimney – Your fireplace and chimney should be ready for Santa. Hire a professional to clean your wood-burning fireplace, woodstove and chimney each year. Soot can build up and catch fire.  Ensure that the flue is working properly.  A gate should be set up to prevent children and pets from coming close to the fire.  Keep combustibles at least three feet away from a fireplace when in use, this includes your stockings or decorations on your mantel.

O Christmas Tree – You want your tree to look its best when Santa comes to drop off gifts.  Christmas tree safety is a primary concern during the holiday season.  Christmas trees are the cause of nearly 300 fires each year according to the National Fire Protection Agency.  If purchasing an artificial tree, select one that is fire retardant.  A live tree should be checked for freshness. Is the tree green? Is the trunk sticky? Do the needles stay on when the tree is shaken?  Additionally, never use lighted candles on a tree.  Check strands of lights for frayed wires or cracked sockets and replace them immediately.

Don’t Forget to Feed the Reindeer
– The holiday season is filled with delicious meals and lots of baking.  And Santa enjoys snacking on milk, cookies and other goodies when visiting each house. But don’t let spoiled food ruin your holiday traditions.  Wash hands and food-contact surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria and cross contamination.  Cook to proper temperatures and refrigerate promptly to avoid harmful bacteria.

Deck the Halls – Decorating your home is a great way to add to holiday cheer. But, Santa may run into decorations if hallways are dark. Decorations should not block any exit or entrance ways. Provide extra lighting in dim hallways, including the use of night-lights.  Never leave a burning candle unattended and keep them away from decorations, wrapping paper and trees. Place candles where they cannot be knocked over.  Make sure illuminated decorations are turned off when you leave and do not use decorations with frayed wires.

Up on the Housetop – Hanging lights on your house and adding decorations to your yard is a great way to grab Santa’s attention. The best way to climb indoors and out is to use a safe and sturdy ladder. Before using a ladder outdoors, choose a location that is away from all power lines. Place the ladder on level ground and open it completely, making sure all locks are engaged. Make sure rungs are dry. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
– As Santa’s helpers head out for Christmas shopping, there are a number of safety tips to remember.  Walk confidently and be alert, shop with friends and keep your shopping bags with you at all times.  Don’t burden yourself with too many bags; consider taking some out to the car and place them in the trunk or out of view. Try not to display large sums of cash. If you are carrying a purse, keep it close to your body, and do not place it on a store counter.  Wallets should be carried in a front pocket. 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas – If traveling home for the holidays, Santa will certainly know where to find you. Before heading out, consider investing in a basic safety car kit, including flares, plumber’s candles, a coffee can filled 1/3 of the way with sand (to place the lighted candle in) matches and jumper cables. You also should bring chains or other devices for traveling in the snow. Bring blankets for everyone traveling with you as well as water, food and a charged cell phone in case you are stranded in a storm.

Winter Wonderland – Even in a blizzard, Santa will make it to your home on Christmas Eve. But, as the weather chills and you heat your home don’t forget to stay safe.  Have your furnace cleaned and inspected to prevent fire and carbon monoxide leaks.  If you haven’t installed a carbon monoxide or smoke detector in your home – now is the time.  Make sure to replace the batteries annually and test them monthly.  Use space heaters only as a short-term heating solution.  They should only be used on a stable surface and away from combustible items or water.  Make sure they are unplugged when you leave a room.

Brian A. O’Connell is the Vice President General Manager AlliedBarton Security Services. AlliedBarton provides highly trained security personnel to many industries.
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