Holiday decorations …

The holiday season is here — again and already! Time to “deck the halls” and gather with friends and family. Time to get into spirit of the season and out into the hustle and bustle with everyone else that is getting into the spirit.

With the holidays comes the seasonal messages of safety that we all should know, but either forgot, or tend to overlook.

Christmas trees
When selecting a cut tree, check the needles. They should be hard to pull out, green in color and flexible.

When you get it home, make a fresh cut at an angle into the bark down to the wood. Place the tree in water, and keep the water full. When the tree stops absorbing water, it is time to remove the tree to the outdoors.

Some have said that aspirin will help the tree absorb water and stay greener longer. And there is commercial tree preserver additive that claims to do the same.

Live trees (with the root ball) should be kept outdoors and gradually acclimatized to the indoors and vice versa when you are done with them for the season. The indoor season for live trees should be limited to the holiday season.

Use a good, solid base or tree stand. Consider using wire or fishing line to further stabilize your tree — especially if you have pets and small children.

Always keep trees out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, including vents and baseboard heaters. This is especially true of wood or gas stoves and fireplaces.

Never decorate a tree with real candles. Always shutoff the lights on the tree if going away or going to bed.

Remember to also keep combustibles, including holiday decorations, presents, wrappings, etc., away from heat sources.

Only use UL or other certified testing laboratory certified lighting and electrical products. Be sure that what you are using is rated for what you are using it for — indoor products indoors, outdoor products outdoors, etc.

Remember that you should not link or mix LED and conventional strings of lights by plugging into each other. Avoid overloading adapters, extension cords, circuits, and fuses — follow and never exceed manufacturer recommendations.

Never use a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter, unless it is properly grounded. Inspect cords for excessive wearing, cuts, breaks in the insulation, etc. Do not use tape (electrical or otherwise) in place of a proper fix. Repair all electrical products properly.

If you have pets (especially cats) or small children additional precautions may be necessary. Place small or fragile decorations out of reach, and be ever mindful of possible choking hazards. Remember that many holiday plants are toxic to pets and humans.

Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are a must. They also make great gifts.

Safe driving
This is also the time of year, so it seems, that there are more drivers on the road drinking their “holiday cheer”. Be aware of those drivers all around you who may be driving “under the influence” of any type of intoxicant. If you feel you are driving in the midst of someone who may be under the influence, pull out of traffic for a few minutes, and/or follow at a safe distance. Report them to 9-1-1, and provide as much information as possible – type and color of vehicle, description of the driver and occupants, what the driver is doing (swerving, over the lines, etc.), and the direction of travel.

Do not drive yourself if you may be under the influence. Know your limit — not the limit you think you can handle, but the one that matches your body weight, the amount you have consumed, and the time in which you have consumed it.

Remember that if you are taking medication, the effects of alcohol may be intensified. For most people, it you have had more than two drinks in an hour, you may be under the influence. Use the designated driver system, or better yet, don’t drink alcoholic beverages and be the designated driver.

Also be aware of holiday foods that contain alcohol. I once enjoyed rum balls at a Christmas party that was hosted by a chief officer. I did not know what they were (although they were good), and had already consumed two when the CO came over and asked me what I was doing. It was then that I was told what they were, and just how much rum was in them. It would have not been so bad, except that I was on duty — and was supposed to be the driver of the fire truck that was parked outside! Lesson learned.

If you are traveling, remember to buckle-up. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Avoid confrontations with other drivers, regardless of your “point” — it’s not worth it.

Relax, have fun, and enjoy this special time of year! And remember to help make it special for those less fortunate.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me c/o the Town Crier or [email protected].

I’ve got some smells to sniff. …

Remember to play it safe in all that you do!