Safety Tips For A Healthy, Happy Holiday

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Payson's public safety officials want to remind residents of a few tips to avoid injury and property loss during this holiday season.

Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi said that, so far, the department has not had to respond to any holiday-related fires.

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Deep-fried turkey has become a popular offering for holiday dinners. But use caution when frying the fowl; the oil is extremely hot, and spillovers can cause fires.

"We've been in good shape," deMasi said. "Folks are doing quite well in that regard."

DeMasi said this is a good time of year to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and take out your fire extinguisher and make sure it is in good working order.

"If your fire extinguisher has been in the closet for three years, it's probably time to get it serviced," deMasi said.

Fireplaces and wood stoves

Having flames shooting out your chimney is probably not what you want during the holidays.

"Make sure your fireplace has been cleaned, especially if you used it last year or haven't used it in awhile," deMasi said. "The smoke, especially in slow burning fires, cools and deposits creosote in the chimney. You need to make sure to get that cleaned out. Make sure the damper is open when you start the fire. And keep the firewood at least three feet away from a fireplace or woodstove."

"If young children are visiting, you may want to avoid using your wood, pellet or gas stoves," Battalion Chief Guy Austin said. "Touching a wood stove may cause a severe burn, especially to the young and elderly whose skin is more vulnerable. At the very least, educate children to the heat of the stove and keep a watchful eye on visitors."

Christmas trees

When does your Christmas tree become a fire risk?

"It's very important to keep your tree watered. Check it on a daily basis," deMasi said. "If it's starting to drop a lot of needles, it's time for it to go. If you have lights on it, you shouldn't use them."

"Dry Christmas trees do catch fire if given the opportunity," Austin said. "An electrically operated humidifier can add humidity."

Deep-fried holiday food

If deep-fried food is on the menu, deMasi has a few suggestions.

"Make sure you follow the instructions on your deep fryer," deMasi said. "Some people will overfill it or use the wrong type of oil. If you deep fry a turkey, dry it out first because water and hot oil do not mix. If a grease fire is in the pan, always the have the lid available so you can smother it, or use your extinguisher or baking soda. Don't try to carry the pan outside because you will probably drop it or burn yourself."

Candles

Those scented holiday candles add some ambiance, but can also be a fire hazard, deMasi said.

"Don't forget to blow out your candles when you leave or retire for the evening," deMasi said. " And -- no candles by the tree, please!"

Cords

Austin said people should put some thought into where they place electric cords

"Do not place electric cords where people can trip on them. A broken arm or hip is not the best of holiday gifts," Austin said. "Do not run an electrical cord under a rug along a door jam."

Austin said foot traffic and the action of a door can cause a breakage and lead to a fire.

"Use electrical tape or plastic cable ties to hold cords in place -- not nails or tacks," Austin said. "And do not place cords where water might run or pool."

Crime-free Christmas

The holidays can also be an opportunity for criminals to get some free presents.

According to Payson Police Lt. Don Engler, several Payson residents have had Christmas decorations stolen from their front yards this year.

"It's not unusual to have some of that, but it seems that we have had more than usual this year," Engler said. "It's happened in several different locations in town and we suspect it's probably a younger crowd, less than 20 and old enough to drive -- that's what we are working on."

Engler said they are continuing to investigate the thefts.

As for other holiday safety tips, Engler says safe driving is a priority.

"Surely consuming alcohol and making sure you have a designated driver jumps right to the top of the list for us," Engler said. "That's one that we hope people are utilizing. It's one of our biggest safety concerns. Likewise just using additional traffic safety measures here and on the highways."

Don't become a victim

Engler said being aware of your surroundings can prevent people from becoming victims.

"There's the additional holiday safety precautions we put out such as keeping an eye out when you are walking in and out of the parking lot," Engler said. "Sometimes during this time of year, we have purse snatchers."

Leaving a purse or gifts unattended also can open the door to an opportunistic thief.

"Just put as many barriers as possible between you and a thief," Sgt. Rod Mamero said. "Lock your car, park in a well-lit area, and don't leave valuables in plain sight."

If you are going out of town, take steps to protect your home from burglars, Engler said.

"The police department maintains a vacation-home watch program and all a person has to do is come to the police department and fill out a request form and our volunteers check on the residences," Engler said.

He recommends using lights or a radio to give the appearance that someone is home.

"I like using a timer to switch on the lights or radio or TV -- one that you can set for different times of the day just to make it more difficult for a burglar to determine whether someone is home or not."

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