5 Steps that Will Save you from Holiday Emergencies

Written by KOVA Corp

As anyone who works at a public safety answering point knows, holidays are always a time of increased emergencies. Emergency call centers are on high alert when the weather takes a turn for the worst, people are traveling, alcohol is being served at parties, heaters are in use 24/7, and holiday decorations are up. Put together, it can be – and often is – a recipe for disaster, when certain precautions are not taken.
So what steps can you recommend to family and friends to help prevent holiday emergencies from occurring? We’ve put together a helpful list of things to keep in mind so they don’t end up having to call your PSAP this holiday season.

Keep Burglars at Bay

With so many people travelling for the holidays, whether it’s to stay at Grandma’s for a couple of weeks or just to visit friends for a few hours, it’s no wonder that this is the time when, according to the FBI, almost half a million burglaries take place each year. In order to minimize chances of a break-in, make sure your doors and windows are locked when you leave, even if it’s just to go to the store. Give the appearance that someone is home by leaving a TV or radio on, and putting lights on a timer. If possible, keep a car in the driveway, and ask a neighbor to pick up your mail and maybe even shovel snow while you’re away. Also be mindful when holiday shopping!

Take Care of Your Christmas Tree

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments respond to an average of 210 homes each holiday year. Doesn’t seem like a lot? Consider that those fires caused $17.5 million in property damage from 2009 to 20013. Not including the 1,000 people who are injured by the tree alone!

Be smart when choosing your Christmas tree by relying on safety tips. Make sure that needles don’t fall off in large quantities and that the base is still sticky with resin; the fresher your Christmas tree is, the less likely it is to be a fire hazard.  Once you bring it home be sure to keep it in plenty of water to keep it fresh as long as possible and place it in a location well away from fireplaces and heaters.

Watch Your Christmas Lights

Before decorating the tree, the outside of your house, or anything else with Christmas lights, check to make sure the wires, sockets, and connections are all in good condition. Before leaving the house or going to sleep, all lights should be turned off. And finally, be careful never to decorate a metallic tree with electric lights – one faulty light can cause someone who simply touches a tree branch to be electrocuted.

And it’s not just the lights you have to worry about. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there is an average of 250 injuries a day during the holidays—that averages to be about 15,000 decorating-related injuries per year.

Be Responsible with Alcohol

It goes without saying that you should keep an eye on your own alcohol intake during the holidays, as at any time. But if you are throwing a holiday party, be a responsible host by making sure your friends have a designated driver and not letting anyone drive drunk or even tipsy. Offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks at your party as alternatives and watch your friends’ consumption so that they don’t overindulge.

If you are going out to a party, the same rules apply: Make sure you have a designated driver (or cab or Uber) and keep in mind how many drinks you have. Going to a public place? Always keep an eye on your drink and get a new drink if you leave yours unattended even for one moment. Utilizing these tips will ensure that you have a fun and safe time!

Prevent Fires

When the weather outside is frightful, people break out the space heaters – which can cause fires if they malfunction, tip over, or are placed too close to anything flammable. The NFPA reports that candles start about 38 percent of home decoration fires and 51 percent of December fires started by candles so be sure never to leave one unattended. And with all the hustle and bustle of cooking for the season, fires can start in the kitchen. Keep an up-to-date, non-expired fire extinguisher handy. The most popular holidays for home cooking fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve respectively.

By taking a few precautions, the holidays can be a safe and happy time for everyone – including public safety answering point personnel. Happy Holidays from all of us here at KOVA Corp!

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