25 basic practices that can avert potential tragedy during the festivities
originally published in Good Housekeeping, December 2003, page 116
Amidst the rush to prepare for the nonstop fun that comes with Christmas, the issue of safety can all too easily be forgotten. To enjoy a truly happy season, keep in mind these precautions:
- SHOP LIGHT. Avoid carrying or displaying large amounts of money, and don’t carry it all in one place. If possible, pay for your purchases with a credit card to limit the bills you’ll carry.
- WATCH YOUR VALUABLES. Be extra careful with your wallet and bag. Cary your handbag tightly under your arm, and be alert to your surroundings.
- PARK SMART. Leave your car in a well-lit area, and check that it’s totally locked before leaving. If your car has an alarm installed, arm it.
- BE ALERT. Have your car keys in hand when heading to your car. Criminals usually target distracted victims rummaging for keys in their bag.
- SHUN THE DARK. Wait for public transportation or rides from friends in busy, lighted areas.
In the home
- DON’T FLAUNT IT. Never display holiday gifts where they can be seen from the window or door.
- DESTROY THE EVIDENCE. After opening gifts, break down the cardboard boxes and other packaging of expensive electronic and other gifts. Put them in black plastic trash bags to conceal new and valuable items in your home.
- ASK BEFORE YOU GIVE. Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable organizations. As for identification, how donated funds are used, etc. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, don’t give.
- LOCK UP. Have and use reliable locks on your doors and windows. Don’t forget double-keyed deadbolts to secure sliding glass doors as well as other windows.
- KEEP MUM. Don not give out personal information over the phone. Use an answering machine whenever possible to help monitor calls.
- FEED THEM FIRST. Serve something to eat before serving alcohol. High-protein foods stay in the stomach longer and slow absorption of alcohol into the system.
- OFFER DRINK OPTIONS. Have nonalcoholic beverages available to party guests.
- ARRANGE RIDES. Have alternative transportation for intoxicated persons. Don’t let guests drink and drive.
- CLEAN UP IMMEDIATELY. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
Fireman Alvin Chingcuango of the San Andres Manila Volunteer Fire Brigade offers the following tips when working in the kitchen:
- PREVENT SCALDING. Keep pot handles turned inward. This will prevent accidental spilling of hot liquids, which can cause severe burns.
Hot oil spilling on open flames may cause larger flames. Should this occur, immediately turn off the gas and use the fire extinguisher. If no fire extinguisher is available, cover the flames with the pan cover or a wet towel. This will cut the flame’s oxygen supply and extinguish it.
- CLEAR THE CLUTTER. Keep oven mitts, paper towels, cookbooks, food packaging and similar items away from the stovetop, as these are potential fire hazards.
- KEEP DISTANCE. Keep children and pets away from the stove while cooking.
- GEAR UP. Wear close-fitting clothes when cooking. Loose sleeves or loose clothing can catch fire when they dangle near hot burners.
Another reminder: When you smell gas in the house, you should NOT turn on the lights, light a candle, match or cigarette. It is also advisable to turn off cell phones, as these may spark
off a flash fire.
Chingcuanco advises: “The first thing to do when you smell gas in the house is to open all the windows and doors and lead children, pets, and old people out of the house immediately. The gas pipes and stoves should be checked to make sure they’re closed properly and not leaking. Should there be a leak, it is best to keep the windows open and seal off the gas supply.”