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Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Holiday Safety from American Red cCoss

Twelve Days of Holiday Safety
from American Red Cross, Sonoma & Mendocino Counties

In the spirit of the season, the American Red Cross offers 12 holiday safety tips.

With last-minute gifts to buy, social events to attend and family and friends to visit while the weather outside may be frightful, American Red Cross, Sonoma & Mendocino Counties has 12 days of health and safety tips to make the holiday season safe, happy and bright.

1. When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month. Be sure to have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly: chimney fires are common and dangerous.

2. Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm, but if you must, keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.

3. Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Make an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type), compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, tow rope. You can purchase soft blankets, first aid kits and other items to have in the car from your local Red Cross. See for details.

4. Help prevent the spread of the flu. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles and seat armrests.

5. Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed; monitor safe play and actively engage your child; and some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR. Want to get your 11- to 15-year-old trained? See and click on “Take a Class,” or call (707) 577-7600.

6. Prevent hypothermia by following Santa’s lead. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

7. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire? Avoid many fire dangers that are common this time of year. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable—such as potholders, towels or curtains—away from your stove top. Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried. Never leave candles burning unattended.

8. Be a lifesaver during the holidays and always. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED. Your local Red Cross chapter has conveniently scheduled courses and can have you trained and certified in a few hours. Your business can offer Red Cross classes, too. See and click on “Take a Class” for a schedule of classes, or call (707) 577-7600.

9. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. When you designate a driver who won’t be drinking, you help make sure a good party doesn’t turn into a tragedy. A good host ensures there are non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. The designated driver should not drink any alcoholic beverages, not even one.

10. Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned by a professional; change the filters regularly. Make sure heat vents aren’t blocked by furniture. Close off any rooms you aren’t using and close heat vents or turn off radiators in those rooms. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround your windows and door moldings. Put up storm windows or storm doors to keep the cold out.

11. Don’t move a muscle, until they buckle. Each person in your vehicle should have their seatbelts securely fastened before driving off. Ensure children are buckled up and their car seats are installed appropriately based on their age and size. Children 12 and under should always sit in the backseat.

12. Resolve to “Be Red Cross Ready” in the New Year. You can take one or more actions to prepare now, should you or your family face an emergency in 2010. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

If you have a serious home emergency such as a fire or flood, and need help from the local Red Cross for shelter, food or medicine, call 707-577-7600 or 1-800-608-8634.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season from American Red Cross, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

Visit to learn more about the local Red Cross and the services they provide to our community.


American Red Cross is a neutral, humanitarian organization that provides relief to those affected by disasters, and prepares people to prevent and respond to emergencies. American Red Cross, Sonoma & Mendocino Counties, like all Red Cross chapters, is self-sustaining and receives no funding from the national organization. It receives no direct funding from United Way, and minimal government funding. All disaster assistance, and service to members of the Armed Forces, is free and made possible by voluntary donations of time and money by the people of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Donations can be made online at, via mail to, 5297 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, or by phone at (707) 577-7600. Mendocino residents can call (707) 463-0112.