Jacksonville Holiday Dangers

Holiday danger

Jim Evancho

During the holiday season many people are looking forward to celebrating. They take time to decorate their homes and surrounding property with festive lights, candles, and ornaments. To help keep the season happy and safe, there are a few items that should be kept in the forefront of your minds.

Fire Hazards

Fire Marshal Lee Batey stated that last week there were two residential house fires here in Jacksonville, one of them being started by a burning candle, and both of them were put out with a fire extinguisher. He wanted to stress the importance of every household to have at least one fire extinguisher inside the residence.

Live Christmas trees can be a dangerous item if they are not properly taken care of. They need to be watered daily to ensure they don’t become brittle and dry. A dry Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in fire in as little as 6 seconds and can consume a small room with flames and smoke in only 20 seconds. Click here for video. 1 out of 45  Christmas tree fires resulted in death – FEMA. Always keep trees away from open flames of any type.

Candles are another dangerous holiday item that many people take for granted due to their small size. Although the flame of the candle is an ignition point you must remember that the candle also puts off heat. If this heat is allowed to remain in constant contact with a flammable item it can cause the item to catch fire. It does NOT always take a direct flame to cause a fire so it is recommended that candles are placed at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.  The top 3 days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

Decorative electrical lighting can also attribute to fires around the home. Be sure to check your wiring for any breaks in the insulation or loose/broken bulbs. All electrical lighting should be UL listed, this is normally found on the outside of the box or near the plug on the strand itself. Extension cords or power strips should be rated to hold the amount of current your light strands require or it can over heat can catch fire. One final warning is not to exceed the amount of connected strands as outlined by the manufacturer.

Crime Hazards

Unfortunately criminal activity increases during the holiday season as well but there are ways to reduce the potential for becoming a victim.

When shopping you should always lock your doors whenever you leave your vehicle, even if its only for a second. If you are shopping and plan on making multiple trips to your vehicle to drop off packages, be sure to place them in the trunk or an area that is not easily seen through the windows of the vehicle.

Many people like to shop on line to avoid the stores. It can save a lot of time and provides convenience. It also invites criminals to become involved in your lives. Throughout the year packages are stolen from front porches but during the holiday season thefts increase. Many police agencies recommend having packages delivered to  a neighbor or loved one that is going to be home to receive them. The majority of delivery services also have an option to notify you, by text or email, when the delivery is made. If you have access to this option try to get a hold of a neighbor to retrieve your package until you can return to your residence.

When you are away from your home it is important to make sure you keep your blinds closed if you have presents under your tree. Many residential burglars will look into windows prior to attempting to break in and a treasure trove of gifts may be the invitation the burglar needs.

When Christmas is over and you are cleaning up the wrapping paper and boxes strew around the room be sure to get rid of them properly. Any large boxes like televisions, video game consoles, or stereo equipment should be broken down into smaller pieces that will fit into garbage bags. Many burglars will drive through residential neighborhoods to see who has new large electronic devices. Boxes left next to a trash can are easily identifiable and could pose as an invitation for a criminal to come back and take your newly opened gifts.

We at The Jacksonville Journal hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday this year. We love our readers and want to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time.

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