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Holiday Safety & Crime Prevention

Holiday Safety & Crime Prevention

Thanksgiving Fire Safety

While Fullerton's firefighters will be on the job Thanksgiving Day, they are reminding residents to be extra careful when preparing their holiday feast as nearly 50 percent of all house fires across the nation start in the kitchen.

Preparing the Thanksgiving meal is often a group project, with many people in the kitchen helping with the chores. And where there's a crowd there's noisy chatter and confusion, and that adds up to a greater chance for an accident to occur.

In an effort to ensure all citizens have a happy and safe Turkey Day, Fullerton's firefighters offer the following kitchen safety tips:

  • Make sure your cooking appliances are in good working order.
  • Start your holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.Make sure any old grease or food spills are cleaned up to lessen the chance of a flare-up.
  • Keep kitchen clutter and loose clothing away from stove burners.
  • Turn pot handles in toward the rear of the stove, out of the reach of children. If the handles stick out over the stove, they could be grabbed by a child, spilling their hot contents and causing burns.
  • NEVER leave cooking food unattended.
  • If the contents in a pot or pan catch fire, do not touch or try to move the pot or pan as you may spread the fire or burn yourself. Extinguish flames with a fire extinguisher, metal lid or larger pot.
  • NEVER use water on a grease fire; extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher, metal lid or larger pot.
  • Use potholders to prevent burns. If you are burned, do not use ice, butter or other such substances on the burn. Ice can damage the skin, and butter or other substances can trap the heat inside. Instead, cool the burn off under a steady stream of cool tap water and then seek medical assistance if necessary.
  • Keep holiday decorations such as dried leaves and cornstalks away from heat sources such as stoves, candles or heaters.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended.
  • In the event of a fire or medical emergency, always call 911.

As a final recommendation, be sure they have smoke detectors in their homes, as well as an ABC-rated home fire extinguisher for their kitchen.

Further holiday safety and year-round fire prevention tips may be obtained by calling the Fullerton Fire Department at (714) 738-6500.

Holiday Safety

Busy shoppers, brightly decorated homes and family get-togethers are all signs that point to the fact the holiday season is upon us. But it's the other "signs" of the holiday season that concern firefighters: homes burned and families devastated by fire caused by some of the very features which make this time so special.

The holidays can be one of the loveliest times of the year. Yet, too often they can turn to tragedy when someone forgets to take a few extra minutes for safety's sake. The stories have an all-too-familiar ring: a frayed light cord or candle left unattended sets holiday decorations ablaze, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The really sad thing is these incidents could have been prevented if citizens had just taken a little time to think about safety when decorating their homes for the holidays.

Making a home fire-safe during the holidays (and all year round) is not hard. All it takes is a little common sense. For example, don't set your Christmas tree next to a fireplace, and don't overload extension cords with light strings. It may mean more work on your part, but that little extra time and effort can keep your family, friends and home safe from the tragedy of fire.

To help you and your family have a safe and happy holiday, the fire chief offers the following tips:

  • If you plan on decorating a real tree, choose the freshest one possible.
    • A good freshness test is to tap the tree lightly on the ground; if needles fall off, it's too dry.
    • Fresh needles bend without breaking.
    • And, don't count on a deep green color to mean freshness - the tree may have been sprayed to improve its appearance.
  • Place the tree in a sturdy holder with a wide base, and keep the holder filled with water. For additional stability, fasten the tree to the wall or ceiling with thin, strong wire from at least two points.
  • Keep the tree away from all fire or heat sources, such as burning candles, fireplaces, stoves and heaters.
  • Keep the tree out of the path of household traffic.
  • Dispose of the tree when the needles begin to fall off in large quantities - a sure sign the tree is dangerously dry.
  • Do not burn the tree or its branches in the fireplace
    • Updrafts can carry burning bits of the lightweight wood up the chimney and onto the roof of your house or your neighbor's.
  • Check tree and outdoor lights for frayed wires, loose connections, broken or cracked sockets, and exposed wire. Discard damaged sets.
  • Fasten lights securely to the tree, making sure the bulbs do not come into direct contact with the needles or the branches.
  • Don't overload extension cords - no more than three sets per cord. Keep the connection joint away from the tree's water supply. Do not place cords under rugs or furniture or the tree stand.
  • Outdoor lights should be weatherproofed and specifically designed for outdoor use. When leaving home or retiring for the night, unplug the lights. When purchasing outdoor and indoor lights, buy only those that carry the approval of a national testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory.
  • Tree ornaments and other decorations should be non-combustible or flame resistant. Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ornaments with small parts on lower tree branches where children or pets can reach them.
  • Use only tinsel or artificial icicles that do not contain lead.
  • Mistletoe and holly berries may be poisonous if swallowed; keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Remove all wrapping papers immediately after the presents are opened, and discard them in metal containers.
    • Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace; it can ignite suddenly and burn rapidly, and may cause a flash fire. As with Christmas tree branches, burning embers of the lightweight paper can also be carried up the chimney and onto the roof, causing a fire.

And, the fire chief has one last gift suggestion: Buy a smoke detector. It could save your family's life.

Further fire prevention tips and information about smoke detectors may be obtained by calling the Fire Prevention Division of the Fullerton Fire Department at (714) 738-6500.

General Crime Prevention

Celebrate Responsibly

Holidays can be a time of celebration and revelry. Drinking and driving is a danger to everyone on the road. Remember that the risk isn't worth it; if you choose to drink alcohol at a party, don't drive. Take a cab, use public transportation or a designated driver. Have fun, but remember to celebrate responsibly.

If You Are Traveling

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home, and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Don't forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it's a sure sign you're gone.

Holiday Crime Prevention

This holiday season don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers, and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, especially because it's an opportune time for crime.

Here are some tips from the Fullerton Police Department on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:

If You Are Out for the Evening

  • Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone's home.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it's just for a few minutes.
  • Don't display gifts where they can be seen from outside.

If You Are Traveling

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home, and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Don't forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it's a sure sign you're gone.

If You Are Shopping

  • Stay alert and be aware of what's going on around you.
  • Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to close the windows and lock the car.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don't overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.

Protect Your Vehicle

  • Loading up on all those gifts is a sign of progress in the holiday shopping, but if those packages are left out in the open after they're in the car, your car has become a likely target for thieves. Remember the old cliche; "Out of sight, out of mind." The same idea applies to items in your car.
  • Always lock your vehicle and store all items out of sight. Breaking into an empty car isn't worth a thief's time. However, anything left in plain view from your holiday gifts to spare change, sunglasses, CDs, cell phones or briefcases may tempt a thief.
  • Help prevent your vehicle from being stolen by always locking your car and using anti-theft devices. And never leave your vehicle running while you run inside your home or a store even if for only a minute or two.

If a Stranger Comes to the Door

Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. And it's not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

After you've opened the Gifts

Burglars know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive, items in their homes following the December holidays especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment. In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with their other garbage.

Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in the alley or other garbage pick-up locations for several days at a time. Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in garbage bags and place them inside a trash can. (In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.) Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside - in a garage, for example - until the evening before your regular garbage pick-up. Some burglars actually look inside garbage cans for evidence of holiday gifts.

And, of course, if you see someone suspicious casing your alley, call the Fullerton Police Department's non-emergency number, (714) 738-6700. If you see a burglary in progress, call 911.

Take a Holiday Inventory

The holidays are a good time to update - or create - your home inventory. Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file.

Make sure things like TVs, VCRs, stereo equipment, cameras, camcorders, sports equipment, jewelry, silver, computers, home office equipment, and power tools are on the list. Remember to check it twice!

Celebrate Responsibly

The holiday season is a time of celebration and revelry. Drinking and driving is a danger to everyone on the road. Remember that the risk isn't worth it if you choose to drink alcohol at a party, don't drive. Take a cab, use public transportation or a designated driver. Have fun, but remember to celebrate responsibly.

Business Holiday Safety

With increased holiday sales, businesses run the risk of becoming the target of robber, but there are steps owners can take to protect themselves and their employees as well as minimize losses.

  • Keep all doors that are not used by the public locked
  • Light is the best deterrent to crime, so make sure parking lots, alleys and walkways are well lit.
  • Position cash registers so they are visible from the street, and do not place signs or displays near windows which can block that visibility.

Further Holiday crime prevention information may be obtained by calling the Community Services Bureau of the Fullerton Police Department at (714) 738-6836.