Holiday & Travel Safety
These simple steps can make traveling more safe and enjoyable:
- Plan travel routes in advance and identify any possible concerns or hazards.
- Make note of your surroundings as well as the physical addresses of the locations you are visiting. Be aware that this information will be vital to receiving emergency aid quickly, especially if calling 911 from a cell phone.
- Ensure your emergency kit and emergency contact lists are up-to-date and have adequate supplies.
- Research what medical and emergency services are available in the area to which you are traveling; obtain contact information for those agencies.
- Identify what law enforcement services are available and how to contact officials in that area; check to see if there are any advisories in effect for the area you are visiting.
- Call ahead to see what pharmacies are available, coordinate with your physician in advance to have prescriptions filled prior to departing; work out a plan in advance if essential medications must be obtained en-route.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times; determine exits and sheltering areas for each location you visit. Discuss with your family where you would go and what you would do in case of fire, severe weather or other crisis scenarios.
- Keep cell phones charged at all times; keep vehicle gas tanks full of fuel.
- Keep your personal items secure and avoid traveling with valuables. If necessary to travel with valuable items, plan how to safely store and secure them throughout the duration of your trip. Check with respective hotels/motels to determine what security practices they have in place.
- Park in well-lit areas; lock vehicles. Do not leave valuable personal items in your vehicle.
- Put away maps, brochures or other items that might indicate to thieves that you are traveling through the area.
- Call your local postal service or package delivery service to hold mail deliveries until you return. A full mailbox or packages left out at your residence can indicate that you are away.
- Avoid sharing travel information on social media. If wishing to share vacation details with social groups, wait until you've returned home to post photos or comments.
- Implement a “no smoking” policy on hayrides or other activities. Keep corn stalks and flammable decorations well away from high traffic areas.
- Select costumes that are light reflective, flame retardant and have minimal edges/surfaces which could ignite if exposed to sparks or open flames. Teach children to drop and roll in case of a costume fire.
- Only trick-or-treat to areas and homes that you are familiar with.
- Bring pets inside to keep them safe and from following trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.
- Adults should always accompany children if trick-or-treating. For safety, only consume candy or treats that are factory wrapped.
Winter Holiday Safety
Flame retardant artificial trees are recommended over live trees for household decorating purposes. Check manufacturers’ labels to confirm materials are fire resistant prior to purchase.
Selecting a Live Tree
Only choose trees which have firm, green needles; tree trunks should be sticky to the touch. To test a tree, firmly strike the tree trunk to the ground; if a significant number of needles fall it is an indication that the tree is too dry and is a potential fire hazard.
Caring for a Live Tree
Place live trees in areas far from heating sources (fireplaces, heat vent, space heaters, etc.). Be careful that candles, cigarette ashes, or other sparks do not come in contact with the tree. Use lights that have been tested for safety – do not use old or repaired lights on trees. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times; live trees should not be kept in the home for more than two weeks. Ensure a fire extinguisher is placed nearby in case of a tree fire.
Disposing of a Live Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. Properly dispose of live trees by taking them to recycling centers or approved refuse sites or placing them for pick-up by a refuse service.
Maintaining Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, cracked sockets, and excessive wear before placing them in or on the home. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord or power strip before plugging the cord into a wall outlet. Check wires and lights regularly to ensure they are not warm to the touch.
Do Not Leave Holiday Lights Unattended
Turn off all decorative lights before leaving the residence or retiring for the evening. Unplug extension cords and power cords from the wall outlets.
Use Only Non-flammable Decorations
All decorations should be non-flammable/flame retardant and placed away from heat vents. Check periodically to ensure ornaments, decorations, and tree branches are not retaining heat from nearby lights.
Disposing of Wrapping Paper
Dispose of wrapping paper in regular household refuse containers, never in fireplaces or burning barrels. Burning paper can create dangerous sparks that may result in a chimney fires or ground fires.