Fire and Police Departments Offer Tips on Keeping Holiday Season Safe

— Lisa Brown • • December 2016

Yet another holiday season is upon us. As turkeys and trees get trimmed, holiday drivers hit the road, lights go on houses and shoppers make their way through busy malls, it is easy to forget about basic but simple things to keep the holiday season as safe as it is festive.

There is a 34% increase in property loss during the holidays due to cooking, candles and trees, and most can be prevented.

According to Rolesville Firemen Tony Arthur and Lee Price, you can take specific actions to take to ensure the safety of your family and property:

* Cooking is the No. 1 cause of fires during the holiday season. Stay in the kChristmas Treechen when cooking, or carry a potholder with you as a reminder.

* If you deep-fry a turkey, make sure the turkey is not frozen and not at all wet. The reaction of water and oil can launch a turkey into the air, potentially causing serious damage or injury.

* Burn candles away from curtains and other flammable materials, and make sure each candle is on a steady base.

* Don’t allow children to light candles or use matches or lighters. Children may become comfortable with the process, and not knowing how to handle fire-starting devices can cause injury.

* If you have a cut live Christmas tree in the house, make sure to water it daily. It takes just 13 seconds for a tree, once ignited, to become fully engulfed. Not soon after, it can take an entire room and house.

* A wood-burning fireplace should be inspected annually by a professional. Creosote buildup is unseen in the chimney, potentially causing chimney and roof fires.

* Make sure to have in the house a working CO2 monitor and a ABC fire extinguisher rated for all types of fires – Class A, Class B and Class C.

* Don’t overload outlets, and use surge protectors as much as possible. If you use extension cords, make sure they are not tripping hazards, and do not use staples to keep them down.

Arthur highly recommends that everyone have a family escape plan and call 911 FIRST.  Do not attempt to put out a larger fire yourself.

“A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, so every second counts,” Arthur said. “The longer you wait to call, the longer it will take for us to get there and the bigger the fire and harder to contain.”

He also stresses that once the fire department is called, by a security company or resident, firefighters will come even if they are told a fire is under control or everything is fine.

Personal safety from criminal activities is also a large concern during this time, and Officer Scott Graham of the Wake Forest Police Department also has suggestions for making safety a priority:

* When you’re out shopping, make sure items are secure in the car, and don’t carry too much around with you.

Christmas Gifts* Keep purchased gifts in a safe – not visible – location in your home, such as a closed closet.

* Stay alert and mindful of your surroundings while out shopping. Often mall lots are crowded and dark, so being aware of your surroundings will help.

* If using a shopping cart, do not leave a bag or purse unattended while going to look at something.

* If you have your children with you, never allow them to wander, and keep your eyes on them at all times.

* Remember to designate a driver at parties and dinners. Never drive drunk.

* As new purchases are made, it’s a good time to keep an inventory of all big ticket items in your house and make a record of all serial numbers.

“It’s important to just not take risks. Be careful and aware,” Graham said.