Holiday Safety Tips

By Kristin Boza

Many holiday safety tips are common sense: don’t forget to blow out your candles each night, remember to lock your car, and make sure your holiday lights don’t have any frayed cords. However, there are some things that you may not think of. Follow these tips to ensure a safe, happy holiday season for your home, your pets and your family!

Fire Safety

Beverly/Morgan Park resident and firefighter/EMT Joe Walsh sees a lot of cooking mishaps and dry Christmas trees as the reasons for calling for help in December.

“We don’t get called out for many fires during this time, but we see a lot of cooking pans that have too much liquid in them and are splattering over the stove,” he said. “The entire place will fill with smoke. Be sure to use a bigger pan to accommodate whatever you’re cooking,” he said. And despite repeated warnings every year, dry Christmas trees are a very real hazard. Walsh stresses that Christmas trees will light up if they’re left unwatered.

Pet Safety

Carl Kogut, owner of Animal Krackers, 3309 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park, warns that holiday lights, plants and ornaments can be dangerous for pets.

“Poinsettia plants are number one on the holiday list, and lilies are known to be dangerous to cats,” Kogut said. If ingested, poinsettias can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets, while lilies can cause acute kidney failure in cats.

Kogut also warns about dangling wires from Christmas tree lights.

“Along with the risk of being chewed on, they are also a danger for pets running under the tree,” he said. “The electricity may not harm the animal because lights are low voltage, but it can start a fire. Homeowners should try to secure the lights to the tree so they don’t hang down and get wrapped around the pet.”

Ornaments that are easily breakable or the perfect size to be swallowed should be placed higher up on the tree. And beware of ribbons, string or tinsel; if ingested, it may not pass through the pet and can cause an intestinal blockage.

If you plan to travel with your pet, be sure to always put them in the backseat, and never on your lap while you’re driving.

“It may be cute, but it’s not so cute when it creates an accident and someone else gets injured,” Kogut said. “Secure the animal in a traveling crate or secure it with specially designed belts for pets.”

Don’t forget to treat your pets this holiday season. Animal Krackers carries a variety of holiday-themed dog treats and toys, as well as dog beds and aquarium kits.

Personal Safety

Thanks to the 22nd Police District CAPS office for these tips:

When you’re out shopping or enjoying public holiday events, always be aware of your surroundings. Be sure to limit your cell phone use, since any smart phone is a target for thieves.

Watch out for pickpockets in crowded spaces. Typically, pickpockets will work together: one will bump into you and distract you while the other steals from your purse or pocket. Separate your house keys from your car keys, and never carry your keys in a purse. In the event a purse is stolen, then you will still have your keys to access your car and home.

Avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry when running errands, as this will also attract thieves.

Some thieves will “window shop” your home before breaking in. To avoid this, keep your curtains closed when you’re home or away. Also consider installing motion sensor lights around your home to deter anyone who may break in.

If you leave your home for any period of time, leave some lights on and ask your neighbors to keep an eye on the house and pick up any packages that may be delivered.

Any items left unattended and visible in your car are targets for thieves. Be sure to remove the items when you come home, or hide them in your trunk if you’re running multiple errands.

Always park close to your destination and in a well-lit area.