SIDNEY — The season of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa is a wonderful time of the year, but can also be a dangerous time of the year. During his weekly interview, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart offers readers some helpful tips to have a safe holiday season.
“It’s a wonderful time of the year for all those family gatherings, holiday music, gift giving and all of the things that go along with that and each of our religious beliefs, but it is also a very dangerous time,” Lenhart said.
The top cause of injuries during the holidays occur when putting up or taking down decorations, he said. The second cause of injuries occur on Christmas day from gifts being opened with knives or scissors.
Live trees should be kept away from a heat source, and a fire extinguisher should be kept handy somewhere near your Christmas tree, Lenhart said. He said it is recommended to water your tree every other day.
“A dried out tree can catch fire much faster and burns hotter than one that is hydrated,” Lenhart said. “Another option is to use an artificial tree. Get the ones that are fire resistant; they are less susceptible to catching fire.”
“I think in our particular family, we had more marital blitz choosing the right tree, putting it in the right location, making it the right size, turning it the right direction. And we eliminated that in our family by going to a fake tree. I don’t know about other folks, but I’ve talked to folks who have had some rough times choosing (a tree) and going down that road, ” Lenhart said with a chuckle.
Do not burn wrapping paper in your fireplace, Lenhart said, as it can cause a flash fire. He suggested recycling or reusing, if possible, wrapping paper and bows.
“When stringing out lights and decorations, make sure it’s a normal reach and make sure there’s two of you. Use a proper ladder with someone supporting that base. Lots of folks fall off of ladders and get hurt in that setting,” he said.
He reminds readers when using a ladder to make sure your it is on a solid base and not to stand on the very top of it, or even the top two steps.
“Replace your lights, frayed wires, broken sockets, loose connections. Use the right kind of extension cord, and do not, do not, put large amounts of lighting on a single strand of extension cord,” Lenhart said. “At night our recommendation is to turn those lights off, when you go to bed.”
Candles are another source to cause a fire. Lenhart recommends ensuring the base of a candle is sturdy, to prevent it from tipping over, and to never ever leave a burning candle unattended.
“Ornaments. It is much better to have ornaments that are not made out of glass. If you break one of those, they are dangerous. (If) you step on them, you cut your hands or foot, etc. So the (glass) ornaments are very dangerous,” he said.
Lenhart said pointesttas plants are poisonous if ingested. He reminded that little kids wouldn’t know the difference and to be aware of children accidentally ingesting the plant or small toys.
“So those are some safety hints for the Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa that is coming up here,” Lenhart said.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.