Date: December 1, 2000 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Sterling Ivey, 863 534-6377 or 819-0221 pager
Holiday Safety Tips

The upcoming time of year is an opportunity for families and friends to gather together and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. With all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, and planning get-togethers, it is very easy to overlook issues of safety and security. But, by keeping in mind these tips, we can ensure that everyone remembers this holiday season for all of the right reasons. 

Christmas Trees 
* Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you decide to purchase one, look for a label on the box specifying this protective feature. 
* When purchasing a live tree, remember that fresh green trees are less of a fire hazard than dry trees. Trim away excess branches and bark as necessary to set the tree in a sturdy stand and maximize water absorption. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water. 
* Place the tree out of the way of traffic and away from fireplaces and heaters. Heated rooms cause trees to dry out faster. 
* Use fishing line or picture wire to secure a large tree to the walls or ceiling. 

Lights and Other Decorations 
* Hang ornaments, lights and other decorations out of the reach of small children. 
* Avoid using decorations that are sharp or breakable or any with small removable parts. 
* Only use artificial spray snow if the label indicates that it is non-toxic. To avoid injury, follow the directions carefully. 
* Never use lighted candles on a tree or near decorations and wrapping paper. 
* Turn off decorative lights both indoors and outdoors before going to bed or leaving the house. Also, extinguish any fires or candles. Never leave any heating device unattended. 

Shopping for Gifts 
* Eliminate a major target for criminals by not carrying a purse. Bring only the cash and credit cards needed for that particular shopping trip and carry them in your front pockets. Also, avoid carrying all of those items in one place-distribute your cash and credit cards between one or more locations. 
* Shop before dark when possible. Coordinate shopping trips with friends and family members. Criminals will hesitate in situations where more than one person is involved. 
* Park your vehicle in a well-lit area. Ask a store clerk or security guard to accompany you to your vehicle rather than venture out alone. 
* Do not get overloaded with packages-it makes minding your children and staying alert more difficult. 
* Secure packages in the trunk of your car. Never leave anything of value in plain sight. 

Remember, security around the holidays begins at home. Whether you are planning a week-long trip out of town or planning a trip to the local mall, it is important to practice common sense security measures.

XXX

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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