IEMA releases holiday safety tips

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is offering holiday safety tips for shopping, travel, winter heating and more at

Here are just a few:

Decorating – When decorating for the holidays, be careful when using candles and strings of lights. Candles should never be left unattended and should be placed far away from flammable materials. Candles should always be placed on stable furniture in fire-safe holders that will catch dripping wax. Holiday lights and electrical decorations should bear the name of an independent testing lab to prove they were safety-tested. 

Winter Heating – It is important to make your fireplace ready for the winter heating season. Chimneys, fireplaces and wood and coal stoves should be regularly inspected and cleaned. Furnaces should be checked every year by professionals to ensure mechanical parts are functioning properly and that nothing is blocking the flue. Malfunctioning furnaces increase both the fire and carbon monoxide risks. Illinois law requires that homes should be equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of each sleeping area. The detectors should be tested monthly to ensure they’re functioning and the batteries are still good. Never use a gas or charcoal grill inside your home or attached garage because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Shopping Online – Be smart when shopping online this holiday season. Make sure your home wireless network is password-protected, and set strong passwords to deter cybercriminals. During the holidays, scammers may send fake emails requiring you to click a link for a special offer. Shop online through trusted retailers to avoid these scams, and do not click on links from unknown senders.  

Steve McClure

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