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CSU public safety chief has holiday safety tips

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

As Christmas approaches, the shopping malls are going to be a little more crowded. Christmas lights are going to put more of a strain on electrical outlets. A person's safety and security is going to be at a higher risk.

Lt. Rex Duke, interim chief of public safety at Clayton State University, released a list of tips people can use to remain safe during the holiday season.

"We try to put something out there every year so people know what to look out for during the holidays" Duke said.

He said the biggest safety concerns, of which people need to be aware, are theft and fires. He explained that larger crowds at local stores, improper cooking methods and large light displays are some of the reasons why people are at higher risk during the holidays.

According to Duke, theft increases during the holidays because of holiday shopping. "You're busy thinking about what you're going to be buying for your loved one, and you're not quite paying attention. You let your guard down. With more people at the malls, it's easier for people, especially the criminal element, to blend in and go undetected."

Holiday display, and cooking increase the chances a severe fire is going to break out, Duke added. "Don't use a charcoal grill in your home," he said. "It sounds like something people wouldn't do, but I can promise you someone out there has done it before."

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), over 400 people die in fires during the holiday season every year, with more than 1,600 additional people receiving inferno-related injuries. The USFA's web site says that fires during the holiday season cause more than $990 million in damage every year.

Other Duke recommendations are:

· Remain aware of your surroundings when shopping, and call for assistance if you feel uncomfortable.

· Shop with a buddy.

· Keep gifts locked in the trunk of your vehicle so they are out of the view of thieves.

· Use secure web sites you are familiar with when shopping online.

· Don't use a cooking apparatus, such as a turkey fryer, indoors.

· Make sure the batteries in your smoke detector are fresh, and acquire a fire extinguisher, weather radio, flashlight and first aid kit.

· Avoid overloading electrical outlets.

· Test extension cords to make sure they are not in danger of overheating. If the extension cord is warm when you plug it in, it should be replaced.

· Do not run the extension cord under a rug.

· Have your car checked before going on a long trip, and do not drive while under the influence of alcohol.

· Turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment before leaving your office, or home, for the holidays.