- Connect with care. Do your online shopping at home, and make sure your network is protected.
- Be cautious. Scammers may send fake emails that are too good to be true. Don't click on links!
- Set strong passwords and change your passwords often. Do not set passwords that will be easy for cyber criminals to guess.
- Too good to be true? It probably is. Shop only with trusted companies to avoid getting scammed.
Be prepared for winter weather
- In Santa Cruz County residents should especially be aware of flood safety.
- Stay off the road during and after a winter storm
- If you travel, check conditions and have appropriate equipment and clothing. (See below for more travel tips.)
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.
- Keep an eye on food when cooking!
- Unattended cooking is the leading factor in home cooking fires.
- Pay special attention when frying.
- Move things that can burn away from the stove, such as dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper, and curtains.
- Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or knock them over.
Remember holiday tree safety
- Choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Place the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source.
- Cut 1” to 2” off the bottom of the trunk before placing in the stand and put the tree in water immediately.
- Don’t let the tree dry out – add water to the stand every day.
- Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit.
- Never leave a lighted tree unattended. Always turn off or unplug lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
- Remove your tree immediately after the holidays.
- Dry trees are a fire danger. Do not leave in your home or garage, and do not place outside against the house.
- Check recycling options!
Note: Artificial trees are less flammable than live trees and don’t require water. Look for the label: “Fire Resistant.”
Merry, Bright, and Safe!
- Use only lights that are approved by a qualified testing organization like UL.
- Use the right lights and extension cords.
- Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
- Remove and replace any lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. (Do not try to repair!)
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to safely connect.
- Turn off all inside and outside holiday lights when you go to sleep and when you leave the house.
- Do not overload electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
- Keep all decorations at least 3 feet away from heating equipment or an open flame.
Tip: LED lights produce almost no heat, making them safe to touch and greatly reducing the risk of fire. They are also shatterproof and shock resistant.
Use candles with care
- Consider battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
- Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle. (And remember to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.)
- Never leave a lit candle unattended. Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Use sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic candleholders that won’t tip over.
- Don’t use candles in a power outage. Have flashlights and other battery-powered lighting handy.
Check Your Alarms
- Smoke alarms
- Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and outside all sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms once a month.
- Carbon monoxide alarms
- If you have fuel-burning appliances, including wood, natural gas, propane, or heating oil, or if you have an attached garage, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm.
- Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless poison gas that causes illness and can result in death when inhaled.
- Carbon monoxide can come from any fuel-burning appliance that is malfunctioning or improperly installed, as well as a blocked chimney or flue, or a cracked or loose furnace exchanger.
- Carbon monoxide also comes from vehicles and other combustion engines, posing danger when these are running in an attached garage.
- Generators emit carbon monoxide
- Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
- Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.
- It’s important to have fuel-burning appliances installed by a professional, since proper installation, ventilation and maintenance will reroute any carbon monoxide emissions out of your home to keep your family safe.
- Talk with your family about who to call, where to meet and what to pack to be prepared for an emergency.
- Fill out an emergency communications plan card. Give a copy to family members and emergency contacts.
- Leave copies of your passports, credit cards and any other types of identification with your emergency contacts. Keep a separate set of copies in your own luggage.
- Prepare Your Home
- Make your house looks lived in.
- Stop newspaper, mail and deliveries (or have them picked up).
- Put at least one light on a timer.
- Arrange for someone to check on your home periodically while you are away.
- Unplug small appliances and electronic devices.
- If you have a security system, be sure that it is working properly.
- Let your alarm monitoring company know you will be away.
- If you have a DIY home security system with optional monitoring, consider adding monitoring to your plan for when you’ll be away.
- On the Road
- Have your car inspected and/or serviced before you leave. Have your tires checked and properly inflated.
- Be sure your car is equipped with necessary tools, such as a spare tire, jack, and jumper cables.
- Pack an emergency supply kit and be prepared for first aid and other types of emergencies.
- Check the weather and be prepared for driving conditions.
- Make frequent rest stops.
Resources and Links