Happy holidays start, end with safety

Christmas is now less than a month away and in the spirit of the festive season, it is important to practice and make time for safety.
Why? So to avoid the dangers of carelessness during a time of happiness and celebration, when most people are relaxed and not alert as usual.
I attended my first fatal fire back in the 1980s. A parent and two children lost their lives—and it was during the Christmas season!
Fire can be a dangerous enemy and this is a dangerous period of the year. The Christmas season is a very merry time of the year, but fire has no respect for happy occasions.
Fire can strike with fury when least expected!
Christmas brings temptations to many parents and caregivers—while visiting with friends or completing last-minute shopping—to leave small children unattended for short periods.
At the same time, decorations, trees, and wrapping paper bring an increased threat of fire danger unless constant care is exercised. Under certain conditions, a Christmas tree can be ignited by a single match to burn furiously to charred wood in a few seconds.
Parents and caregivers must recognize the fire danger of this season and never leave small children in the home even for a moment.
If you choose a natural tree for Christmas, examine it to ensure it is not dry and shedding needles—a condition which causes a tree to become highly combustible.
Prior to setting it up in a secure tip-resistant stand with a provision for holding water, place a fresh cut on the trunk at least one inch (2.5 cm) from the original cut.
If an artificial tree is your choice, take care to ensure any safety warnings are observed, especially those concerning the use of lights.
When your Christmas tree is properly set up, make your next step a careful examination of any decorative lights you intend to use. Any evidence that a set of lights has deteriorated is sufficient cause to discard them.
The chance just isn’t worth taking.
Also, don’t forget to unplug lights before going to bed or leaving home!
Finally, the use of space heaters is something you might do from time to time.
Nevertheless, it is important that you recognize the trappings of the festive season, and the additional number of people who may be in the room where the heater is used, increases the risk of combustibles being too close and of tip-over.
Remember, if you never need what you learn about personal safety, you have lost nothing. But if you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!
Safety—it starts with you!
Tyler J. Moffitt served with the OPP as well as 15 years as a firefighter and emergency responder.

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