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December 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Heartland Fire & Rescue and Rady Children’s Hospital offer the following advice to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.

Burns: The typical burn injury seen during the holidays is a scald.  When adults enjoy hot liquids during colder weather, a small child may reach up for your cup and spill hot liquid, such as hot chocolate, coffee or soup. Spilling this scalding hot liquid onto their face, neck, hands and arms. Scald burns are the second leading cause of all burns according to the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA). 

Most scalds and burns occur in the kitchen regardless of adult supervision; therefore it is important to mark off specific areas for kids to avoid in the kitchen by placing a border with tape on the floor around the stove, oven and sink.  A three foot clearance is recommended.

Use the back burner of the stove and turn the handles of pots and pans inwards.

Keep dish towels and pot holders away from the open flame of a gas stove, and careful reaching across a stove area when wearing long sleeves that could catch fire. Place oven knob covers on stoves to prevent a child from turning the gas and/or stove on. 

Cooking Food:  NEVER leave cooking food unattended, this is our most common fire starter.  Always keep the lid of the pots and pans you are using nearby.  Should your pan of oil catch fire, NEVER use water to extinguish the fire.  Simply turn off the flame and slide the lid over the burning pan to smother the flames.

Carbon Monoxide & Fire Alarms: Have working CO monitors and fire alarms in every room along with a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Escape Plan: Have a home escape plan to evacuate the house and a designated meeting place outside the home, such as a mailbox, stop sign etc. Never go back into a burning building.

Teach your kids to stop, drop and roll in case their clothes catch on fire…and crawl low in smoke when a fire is present. Smoke will rise and the good air will be down low for a short period of time.  A working smoke alarm will alert you to a fire sooner and increase your chances of escaping.  Teach everyone to feel the door, and if it is hot find an alternate way out of the home.

Keep emergency numbers close to the phone and teach your children to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Visiting family & friends:  Keep in mind overnight guests may be traveling with medication. You can monitor and properly store your own prescriptions but when guests come, guests may leave their medication on the nightstand or bathroom vanities, well in reach of the little ones.

Give guests a special place to lock away their medications.

Space heaters: Keep anything that can burn (newspapers, magazines, clothing) at least three-feet away from portable space heaters, the fireplace, wood stove, or furnace.  

If you have not used your furnace for several months, consider having it checked by San Diego Gas & Electric.  This is a free service – visit www.sdge.com.

Holiday Decorating: Do not use old and frayed lighting.  Use battery operated candles, rather than real candles.  Never leave lighted candles unattended, and keep lit candles well away from other decorations that could easily ignite. Use caution climbing ladders to hang your lights.

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