Safety During the Holidays

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Traveling this holiday season and want to know how to keep your home safe while you're away? Are all those new lights on your tree a fire hazard? Headed for the mall and want to know how to stay safe while you're out and about?
Find out answers to these and more safety questions below.

Is Your Christmas Tree a Fire Hazard?

Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Don’t let a fire put a damper on your holiday season this year. Avoid holiday fires by following these steps when searching and caring for your tree. n When shopping for that perfect tree, choose one that is fresh. A tree that is fresh is green, has branches that are hard to pull back, and has a trunk that is sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

n Christmas tree fires typically occur because of electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches. Keep your tree watered and away from heat sources. Try not to leave it up for longer than two weeks.

n If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

n When disposing of your tree, never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

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Safe Travels this Holiday Season

What better way to escape the cold than to book a road trip or a cruise to a Caribbean island? Whatever your travel plans are this holiday and winter season, keep yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings back home safe by following these simple steps.
n Before leaving for an extended period of time, consider stopping paper or mail delivery to your home, or having a trusted friend or neighbor retrieve them for you while you are away.

n Lighting is one of the least expensive ways to protect your property. Consider using photoelectric cells or timers for lights and other electronic devices when out of town to give the impression that someone is home at different times throughout the day and night.

n Don’t broadcast your plans to others, especially if you are travelling alone. Communicate with trusted friends, family and coworkers about where you’ll be staying in case of an emergency and check back in with them to let them know you’re safe.

n When returning home, be cautious. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call the Police and let them investigate.

n Let Manassas City Police Department know when you plan to leave for an extended period of time so that officers can check on your house while you’re away. Submit a Vacation Check Request form online at

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Holiday Fire Safety: Lights & Decorations Holiday lights and decorations can pose a fire hazard if they are not handled properly. Follow these tips to avoid letting a fire get in the way of your yuletide cheer.

n Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

n Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. And never leave holiday lights on unattended!

n All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

n Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace. Doing so can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

n If you use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

n Never go near a tree with an open flame – candles, lighters, or matches, just to name a few.

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Don't Become a Drunk Driving Statistic

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), someone is killed in a drunk driving crash every 52 minutes on average. 10,228 people were killed and approximately 350,000 were injured as a result of drunk driving in 2010 alone. Every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of this entirely preventable crime. Don’t become a statistic. Follow these easy tips to keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers safe, especially during the holiday season.

n Before leaving for the night, designate a sober driver who is responsible for getting everyone home safely.

n Consider taking public transportation, such as bus or rail.

n Call a cab. SoberRide is a free taxi ride program provided by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) to provide a safe way home for impaired drivers during high risk times of the year, such as through the December-January holiday season. For more information on how easy it is to order a free cab, visit


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Click It or Ticket

Regular seat belt use saves thousands of lives across Virginia each year. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 272 lives in Virginia. According to the DMV Highway Safety Office’s TREDS (Traffic Records Electronic Data System), there was a total of 765 fatalities in 2011. 306 of them were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

n Seasonal Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilizations run annually in May and November, but motorists should know that officers are out enforcing seat belt and other traffic laws day and night, year-round. So what can you do to increase your chances of survival in a collision and avoid being ticketed by Police? It’s simple. Buckle up!

Safe Shopping, Happy Shopping!

Whether you’re taking advantage of door buster deals or leisurely shopping for loved ones, follow these simple tips to stay safe while you’re out helping Santa. n Criminals expect shoppers to carry several credit cards on them in addition to recent purchases. Conceal all valuables and only carry what you need.

n Even though it might be daylight when you enter a shopping mall or store, it could be dark when you exit. If you feel unsafe walking to your vehicle alone, do not hesitate to ask a store employee or security officer to escort you.
n Walk briskly when you are out and about. Keep your head up and your shoulders back to exude confidence.

City of Manassas Dept of Fire & Rescue Online Vacation Request Form City of Manassas Dept of Fire & Rescue Click It or Ticket MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Washington Regional Alcohol Program (SoberRide)