Tips offered for travel safety, holiday decorating, preparedness gifts
SPRINGFIELD – With the holiday season in full swing, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is offering tips to help people stay safe now and into the new year. From decorating the tree to traveling to grandma’s house with a sleigh full of new toys, be sure to take simple steps to keep your family safe.
Whether decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s Eve, candles and strings of colored lights create a festive atmosphere but it’s important to be careful when using them. Candles should never be left unattended, and placed far away from flammable materials. Candles should also be placed on stable furniture in fire-safe holders that will catch dripping wax. Holiday lights and electrical decorations should bear the name of an independent testing lab to prove they were safety tested.
While the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, be sure that your fireplace is ready for the winter heating season. Chimneys, fireplaces and wood and coal stoves should be regularly inspected and cleaned when necessary. Additionally, furnaces should be checked every year by professionals to ensure mechanical parts are functioning properly and that nothing is blocking the flue. Malfunctioning furnaces increase both the fire and carbon monoxide risks.
Under Illinois law, homes should be equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of each sleeping area. The detectors should be tested monthly to ensure they’re functioning and the batteries are still good. Never use a gas or charcoal grill inside your home or attached garage because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Preparedness Gift Ideas
While you are out shopping this holiday season, consider gifts that can help friends and family stay safe during all types of hazards and emergencies.
“Disasters can happen at any time and often with little to no warning,” said Acting IEMA Director William Robertson. “Safety gifts are not only practical but they provide the gift-giver peace of mind knowing your loved one will be safe during an emergency.”
Preparedness gift ideas include:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alert radio with battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology. In addition to alerting for weather warnings, these radios also broadcast warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural, environmental and public safety hazards, such as earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.
- Flashlight with extra batteries.
- First aid kit with sterile bandages and gauze pads in assorted sizes; antiseptic; latex gloves; tweezers; scissors; soap and moistened towelettes; and thermometer.
- Home emergency preparedness kit stocked with a three-day supply of bottled water and non-perishable food; battery-powered radio, weather radio and flashlights with extra batteries; first aid kit; shut-off wrench (to turn off household gas and water); manual can opener; and fire extinguisher.
- Vehicle emergency preparedness kit stocked with a flashlight with extra batteries; first aid kit; water and non-perishable snacks; blankets; windshield scraper and brush; booster cables; sack of sand or kitty litter; tool kit; and shovel. The items can be packed in a backpack or rubber tub.
When traveling over the river and through the woods, whether by car, train or plane, be sure to utilize smart travel tips.
If traveling by car, remember to pack an emergency supply kit with essentials for all your passengers. Fill out an emergency communications plan and let your in case of emergency (ICE) contact know your plan. Also, before you hit the road, check local road conditions and avoid traveling during winter storms.
If traveling by plane for the holidays, be sure to review the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security screening tips. When packing for your flights, consider a small emergency kit that includes a flashlight and spare USB power bank.