Column: How to have a safe holiday from LA County Fire


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Each year, the Los Angeles County Fire Department Firefighters and Paramedics respond to hundreds of holiday-related emergency 911 calls. So, here are a few helpful hints to keep you safe, so you can enjoy the season with family and friends.

Holiday Decorations: If you are like me, your holiday decorations are stored precariously in your attic or in the rafters of the garage. Both locations require the use of a ladder. Safety Tip: The job can be done by one person but two is exponentially safer. One to climb, and the other to stabilize the ladder. While on the ladder, maintain three points of contact, pass the boxes down, which will save your back and shoulders while reducing the likelihood of falling.

Candles: Candlelight is beautiful, and it really helps make holiday meals feel special. When you are done with the holiday meal, have the kids blow them out, leave no open flames unattended.

Electrical: Think Clark Griswald from the movie Christmas Vacation. Your home’s electrical system is designed for normal everyday usage. Some of us like to push the edge of the envelope with elaborate displays to ‘one up’ our neighbors. If this sounds familiar, use LED lighting. They use significantly less power, which is good when the bill comes in January. They last a long time, and the best feature is that they don’t run hot, which reduces the risk of fire.

Christmas Trees: What a wonderful tradition. There are a couple keys to safety with your tree. One, select a healthy tree to begin with by ensuring that the needles are not falling off and it’s nice and green. Second, keep it watered. Finally, use LED lighting to decorate. You brought a large combustible item into your home, don’t give it an ignition source.

Food: This time of year is a time to celebrate with family, friends and coworkers. The food and deserts are amazing! However, if you take medications, keep in mind that your diet may have certain interactions with your dosages. So, try not to overdo it. Remember, everything in moderation. The best part is you won’t have to hit the gym quite as hard for your New Year’s resolution!

Drink: Unfortunately, each year, people are catastrophically injured or killed as a result of drunk driving. Don’t do it! Don’t be that guy or gal. Download a popular ride-share app instead. It only takes a couple minutes. Everyone deserves to enjoy this season and to celebrate with our loved ones.

Cold and Flu Season: Beginning with Black Friday “door buster” sales, and through the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, we are directly in contact with hundreds of people and indirectly with thousands. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizers. And if you are sick, get well so the only thing you are spreading is holiday cheer.

Mental Health: This is time for giving. We think of our dearest family, friends and trusted co-workers, and we want to take care of them all. But remember yourself. Take a moment each day to reflect, be grateful for the simple things and to relax. If you are like me, you think more clearly and you are more effective when you are well rested. Your stress level is lower and you feel better. You are better equipped to spread the holiday cheer if you follow simple steps to ensure you are well rested.

On behalf of my men and women who serve 24-hours a day from 25 fire stations in 12 cities, thank you for your continued support. We are most grateful for you. Happy Holidays, and cheers to a prosperous New Year!