IRVING, Texas – Dec. 4 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — With the holiday season approaching, most Americans turn their thoughts to home, family and friends. To make sure that you stay safe and sound this holiday season, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) recommends the following home safety and security tips:
Holiday Safety Tips
For most Americans, the holidays mean turning on the heat and putting logs on the fire. What this also means is an increased risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO gas can come from several sources besides cars, including gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills and wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces. Each year, CO poisoning causes approximately 480 deaths and more than 15,000 hospital visits in the United States. Since CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas, it can kill before you are even aware of it. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild flu-like symptoms.
* To prevent CO poisoning, consumers should have a qualified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances at least once each year.
* In addition, you should install a certified and independently lab-tested CO detector outside sleeping areas. A CO detector will sound an alarm before dangerous levels of CO accumulate. For added safety, consider having a CO detector included as part of a monitored home security system. This ensures that in the event you are disabled by CO gas, a monitoring station will notify the fire department.
Fire safety is another consideration during the holidays. Both Christmas tree and candle fires are highest in December, with Christmas being the peak day for candle fires.
* Always keep candles away from holiday decorations and other combustible materials.
* Whenever possible, choose decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
* Use care when selecting lights and electrical decorations and check for certification by an independent testing lab, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
* Carefully inspect all strands of lights and replace broken bulbs before plugging in.
* Do not overload extension cords and make sure that you do not connect more strands than allowed.
* Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.
* Consider adding fire detection devices to a monitored home security system; not only will the alarm sound, but the fire department will be alerted when you are away, or in the event you don’t hear the alarm.
* Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. During the holidays, when friends and relatives are around, it’s easy to leave the stove unattended. Just remember to keep your eyes on the range as you entertain.
One final safety tip: Before you welcome guests to your home, test smoke detectors and fire alarms. When guests arrive, make sure everyone knows what your fire escape plan is and how to operate the alarm, especially if they will be in the home without you. And if children are on the guest list, be sure you secure matches, lighters and other hazardous materials out of reach.
Holiday Security Tips
The holidays offer many wonderful opportunities for giving to others, but someone you don’t want to give to is the local burglar. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the United States, with more than 2 million burglaries in 2005. Each victimized home suffers an average loss of $1,725 worth of property,
Here are some tips to prevent this crime:
* Since more than half of residential burglaries occur during the daytime hours when many people are away from home, consumers are advised to be extra cautious about locking doors and windows before leaving. If you have a home security system, use it.
* Don’t invite burglars in with a tempting display of holiday gifts that can be seen from the outside.
* Create the illusion that someone is home by leaving on lights and a radio or television.
If you are going away for the holidays, you can follow this simple 4-point checklist created by NBFAA to minimize your risk of a home burglary:
* Discourage the thief: Since burglars prefer to break in to houses that look unoccupied, lower your home’s appeal by making it look like you’re there. For example, use timers on lights, radios and televisions; ask neighbors to put trash cans out on trash day; leave drapes and shades open and arrange for mail and newspaper delivery to stop, or ask a friend to help.
* Prevent easy access: Make your home a more difficult target by increasing the time it takes a burglar to enter. You can do this by locking all doors, windows and garage door; installing deadbolt locks; trimming trees and hedges; and replacing burned-out yard lights.
* Manage the risk: Make sure your neighbors know you are away; ask them to watch your house. Tell them how long you will be gone and provide the names or descriptions of anyone that may need access to your house. Leave a house key and a number where you can be reached with a trusted individual. Notify your alarm company when you will be away.
* Detect an intruder: NBFAA recommends investing in a home security system. What better gift for the holidays? In an industry survey of 1,000 public safety officials, 85 percent of police chiefs said security systems decrease the likelihood a home will be burglarized, and almost 90 percent felt security systems increase their chances of apprehending burglars.
For a copy of the NBFAA’s Safe and Sound Holiday Tips, go to the Consumer section in the Information Center at www.alarm.org.
NBFAA, a non-profit 501(c) 6 trade association, is the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to representing, promoting, and supporting the electronic life safety, security, and systems industry. Member companies specialize in services to commercial and residential consumers, including security and fire alarms, video surveillance, access control and monitoring.