Written by Garden City Mayer Donald T. Brudie Friday, 16 December 2011 00:00
While we enjoy the holidays it’s easy to understand that many holiday traditions have the potential to put us at an increased risk for fire, and during the holidays it can be especially challenging to keep fire safety in mind with many other things competing for our attention. By understanding where holiday fire hazards exist, and taking some simple preventative steps to avoid them, people can greatly reduce their risk of fire and keep everyone in good cheer. Fire Chief Charles Cavarra has asked that I share the following tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
United States fire departments annually respond to 250 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Nearly half of them are caused by electrical problems and one in four resulted from a heat source that’s too close to the tree. Here are some guidelines for picking, placing and lighting a tree:
• If you have an artificial tree, be sure that it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
• If you choose a fresh tree, please make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched. Before placing it in its stand, cut 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk and add water to the tree stand and be sure to water it daily.
• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
• Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
• After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
• Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and extend their life.
According to NFPA, unattended cooking is the leading cause of United States home fire injuries. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Under no circumstances should you throw water on a grease fire to extinguish it as it will explode and spread throughout the room. As most cooking fires involve the stove-top, keep anything that can catch fire away from it and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking. For homes with children, create a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. NFPA statistics show more than half of all candle fires start because the candle was too close to things that could catch fire. Consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candleholders that are sturdy, won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using candles in the bedroom where two of five United States candle fires begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. Lastly, never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.
The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees’ meeting is Dec. 15.
This is a wonderful time of year to walk through the village, enjoy the holiday decorations and do your shopping on Seventh Street, Franklin Avenue and New Hyde Park Road. There are many things, which make Garden City such an appealing place to live and work. One of these is our viable and welcoming business districts with their fine restaurants, unique shops and regional stores.
Many residents consider shopping and dining in our business districts as “experience shopping” because they meet friends and neighbors along the way and have an opportunity to interact with them. This is in stark contrast to frantically dashing through the crowds in the mall or the big box retailers.
I encourage residents to make a conscious effort to choose Garden City as the place to shop and dine. It would be extremely helpful to our business community if you could make one purchase daily in the village stores. Customer service, selection and quality are outstanding. While shopping or dining let the merchant know that you appreciate them and all that they offer.