Here is a compilation of safety tips, from various sources, to help you enjoy a safe and festive holiday season:
Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips
The National Fire Protection Association suggests these steps to reduce the risk of a Christmas tree fire in your home:
- Choose a fresh, healthy tree with green needles that don’t fall off when you touch them.
- Before placing the tree in its stand, cut about 2 inches from the base of the trunk. This will help the tree to draw up water.
- Check the water level in the stand daily and be sure to keep the tree well-watered.
- Keep the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a space heater, candle, fireplace or heat vent.
- Be sure that your tree does not block an exit.
- Use only decorative lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Be sure light bulbs, strings and connections are not broken or damaged in any way.
- Turn out tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Dispose of tree after Christmas, or when it is dry.
- When disposing of tree, keep it away from your home or garage.
Tips from the Tampa Police Department:
- Lock your car doors to prevent quick access for burglars.
- When possible, shop with a companion, especially during the evening hours.
- Stay alert to your surroundings when walking to and from your vehicle.
- Have your keys in your hand when you are walking to your vehicle.
- Park in well-lit parking lots.
- Avoid parking next to large plants or shrubbery, where criminals can hide.
- Keep valuables out of sight, in your vehicle and your home.
- Take only the credit card or number of checks you plan to use.
- Dispose of boxes or containers carefully, to avoid ‘advertising’ purchases.
- Report any suspicious behavior by calling 9-1-1, remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Choosing toys, shopping online
Tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission
When choosing toys:
- Follow age guidance and other safety information on the toy packaging and choose toys that match each child’s interests and abilities.
- Get safety gear, including helmets, for scooters and other riding toys – and make sure that children use them.
- Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3, and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than age 8.
When buying online:
- Buy from stores and online retailers that you know and trust.
- Scrutinize the product, the packaging and the label to avoid buying counterfeits. If the price seems to be too good to be true, that is a sign it could be a counterfeit.
- Look for a certification mark from an independent testing organization and look for the manufacturer’s label on electrical products.
Food safety tips
Whether you are having a holiday gathering, or not, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind the four steps of food safety, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
- Clean: Clean hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before cooking. Wash hands for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. After cleaning surfaces raw poultry has touched, apply a sanitizer.
- Separate: Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready to eat.
- Cook: Confirm foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature by using a food thermometer. Turkey should be cooked to 165 °F, as measured in three places — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.
- Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours.
Published December 15, 2021