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Holiday Safety Tips from the Police & Fire Chiefs

Dayton Police Chief Scott O’Brien and Bellevue/Dayton Fire Chief Mike Auteri took Monday night’s Dayton City Council meeting as an opportunity to offer the community
some holiday safety tips.
O’Brien mentioned that the holidays pose a specific threat to home security, in that would-be burglars know this is the time of year families tend to exchange gifts. Particularly the weeks before and after Christmas Day, O’Brien says, homeowners should be extra vigilant about locking their doors and windows.
O’Brien also recommends care when disposing of boxes that contained larger items, like TVs and stereo equipment, for example.
“There are a lot of burglaries that happen because people can see what you now have in your home,” O’Brien said, recommending that residents either remove images and labels from boxes, or cutting them down into smaller, less recognizable pieces before taking them out to the street for trash collection.
O’Brien also offered inspections of homeowners’ locks and security measures if they are unsure how best to secure their homes.
Auteri pointed out that the winter holiday season is a ripe time for accidental home fires.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays, claiming more than 500 lives. The same agency also estimates that candle fires are four times as likely to occur during the winter holidays.
Auteri offered these tips to prevent home fires this holiday season, sourced from the American Red Cross:
--Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources, like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles
--Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees moist by giving them plenty of water.
--Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed wiring and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
--Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
--Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving home or going to bed.
--Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
­ --Keep anything that can catch on fire ­ pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains ­ away from your stove top.
--Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.
--Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Test the smoke alarm monthly. Replace batteries yearly.
Auteri’s presentation mentioned that having a working smoke detector reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
Written by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor