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City of Boston Issues Safety Tips Ahead of Holidays

November 25, 2015

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today issued safety tips ahead of the launch of the holiday season.

"While residents are enjoying this holiday, it is always important to exercise caution," said Mayor Walsh. "I encourage the public to review our safety guidelines and be safe this holiday season."  

When cooking large items such as turkeys, always make sure to have the proper sized pan to prevent the overflow of hot liquids on to the stove or a person. 
Never leave the stove area unattended.

Familiarize yourself with how to contain a grease fire. Having a small fire extinguisher nearby is always a good idea. They are readily available at local home improvement stores. Keeping combustible items away from the stove is also recommended.

If frying a turkey outdoors, start with having the propane tank and the burner at least two feet apart. This is to be done on the ground away from items that can burn such as porches, garages and trees and leaves. Use a turkey in the 8-10 pound range that is thawed out and dry.

If grilling outdoors remember that charcoal grills must be on the ground away from the house. Propane grills can be on the first floor porch as long as there are stairs to the ground and there is some clearance from the home.

To help protect pipes, avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down drains. Let fats, oils and grease cool and dispose in a container, in the trash receptacle. In all cases when cooking, it is best to keep children and pets away from the cooking area.  

Special precautions are needed to burn candles safely. Use candle holders that have a firm base and keep candles away from combustible materials such as wreaths, trees, curtains, and paper decorations. Never leave candles unattended, and always extinguish candles before going to sleep.  

Christmas Trees 
When purchasing a Christmas tree, select only a freshly cut tree. The needles should not be falling off from dryness. 

When you place the tree inside, start with a tree stand that has a water receptacle and is non-tip. The stem of the tree should be cut diagonally to allow the tree to soak up water from the stand. 

Water should be added twice daily to prevent the tree from drying out. 

For stability, consider adding some wire near the treetop and run it to nearby walls. 

If you prefer artificial trees, purchase those that are flame retardant. 

Trees should be at least three feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, and heating equipment. 

Never block an exit with the tree. 

Remove trees as soon as possible after the holidays. The Public Works Department will collect Christmas trees for composting from January 4 -15. Don't put them in plastic bags and make sure to take off decorations. Place curbside by 7 AM on recycling day.

Holiday Lights 
Use only Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved lighting. 

Start by a careful examination of the lights. Before plugging a set of lights in, look for cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires, and loose connections that could cause an electric shock or start a fire. 

Never overload your electrical system. Do not connect more than three light sets together. 

Whether on a tree or on the house never staple or nail the light sets. Lights should be unplugged during the night.  

Fire Safe Toys 
When buying children's presents, avoid toys made of highly flammable materials and make sure that all electric toys have the label of an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).  

Heating Systems, Fireplaces & Chimneys 
Heating systems, fireplaces and chimneys should be looked at and serviced by professionals. 

For fireplaces, burn only appropriate material and never burn trash or paper. Always use a fireplace screen and dispose of the ashes in a proper metal container.  

Smoke Detectors 
Massachusetts law requires a working smoke detector outside of each separate sleeping area and one on each level of the home, including at the base of each stairway. 

Make sure toddlers and older children can recognize the sound of a smoke detector and know how to respond. Teach children never to hide under a bed or in a closet when a detector sounds. Families should also have a meeting place outside in the case of fire.  

Portable Heaters 
Portable heaters are not meant to be the main heat source for a home. 

Electric powered portable heaters should never be left on while sleeping and must be kept at least three feet away from combustible materials. Use only UL approved heaters that shut off automatically when tipped and always follow the manufacturer's directions on use.   Liquid fueled space heaters such as those filled with kerosene are illegal for indoor use in Massachusetts.  

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors 
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless, odorless toxic gas, which is produced when fuel burns. CO poisoning occurs most often from faulty heating equipment such as furnaces not properly vented, a blocked chimney flue or a malfunctioning stove. 
Exposure to CO can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or loss of muscle control. The best first aid for CO poisoning is plenty of fresh air followed by immediate medical treatment. 

CO detectors are now required in the homes by law. They must be within 10 feet of sleeping areas. In addition, they need to be on every level of the home including the basement and attached garages. Look for UL approved detectors and follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and operation.