Stay safe online and shop securely

  • 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.)

Cook Safely
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.

Travel Tips

  • 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