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Tips offered to avoid harm for the holidays

December 20, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • This car trunk contains a safety kit including tools, clothing, first aid supplies and other items.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Maryland public-safety officials are offering a few tips to help residents stay safe during this holiday season, both on the road and at home.

Lt. Tom Woodward, commander of the Maryland State Police barrack in Hagerstown, said motorists should make sure they take along blankets, food, water, medicine, a first-aid kit and other emergency items in case their vehicle breaks down.

“It’s not a bad idea to have a cellphone,” he said. “All cellphones can dial 911. You don’t have to have the service.”

Woodward said people should have their vehicles properly serviced and never assume the engine won’t overheat just because it’s cold outside. If your vehicle does break down, Woodward recommended waiting inside for help to arrive.

“Don’t let your tank go below half if you’re traveling a long distance,” he said. “It’s not a bad idea if you’re going on a trip to start out on a full tank.”

Woodward said people who see a stranded driver on the side of the road during the holidays should keep on going. He said that although cases of thieves acting like they’re broken down to lure victims are rare, you never know what might happen.

“The best thing to do is to call it in to law enforcement,” he said.

Bruce D. Bouch, a spokesman for the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, said people should use caution while they’re cooking their holiday dinner, whether it’s in the kitchen or using a fryer outside.

“The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking,” Bouch said.

He suggested that people establish “a 3-foot, no-kids, no-pets zone” around the area where food is cooked to prevent accidents.

“It’s good to have events planned for children to keep them out of the kitchen,” he said.

Families who host holiday meals should make certain everyone knows how to find the exits in case of a fire.

Turkey fryers need to be set up on level ground and away from overhangs, Bouch said. Holiday cooks also should ensure the turkey is thawed so it doesn’t cause the oil in the fryer to overflow or splash.

He said another safety tip includes wearing cotton clothing to protect the skin from splattering oil.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following safety tips to help ensure a safe Christmas holiday:
° Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly.
° Ensure you turn handles inward on the stove and countertop to avoid spills.
° Be alert while cooking; avoid consuming any alcoholic beverages while preparing the meal.
° Keep a lid nearby when you are cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it has cooled.
° Keep anything combustible — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging and towels — away from the stovetop.
° A clean work area allows for better efficiency and less chances for mishaps.
° Do not leave lighted candles unattended or in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.

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