Naperville first responders discuss holiday safety tips

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, signaling the start of the holiday rush. As families get ready for the busy time, one Naperville organization wants to ensure that safety precautions aren’t put on the back burner.

CAPS forum on holiday safety

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS) community group hosted an open forum at the 95th Street Library about potential holiday hazards. They invited Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis and Police Sergeant Jennifer Johnsen to discuss strategies for keeping the holidays merry and bright.

“The holiday season should be a joyous one, should be one of coming together in friendship and in great health. What we want is for everybody to be safe,” said Puknaitis. “If you can have a safe holiday season, you will have a fun and a great holiday season.”

Avoiding a holiday house fire

While food is a big focus of Thanksgiving, being stretched too thin in the kitchen can be problematic. According to Chief Puknaitis, cooking is the number one cause of holiday house fires.

The best line of defense is your smoke detector, so check the batteries regularly. If any flames do get out of hand while you’re making your Thanksgiving feast, be sure to act quickly.

“If you have a grease fire, if you see something that is a problem in your stove, the best thing you can do is close that oven,” said Puknaitis. “If you’ve got a grease fire happening in a pot, all of a sudden that pot is flaming, put a cover over it if you can and then get out of the house and dial 911.”

Decorations and lights are also common fire hazards. It’s important not to overload outlets or use extension cords that are showing signs of wear.

“Any kinds of tears in cords, don’t just tape them up, replace them. You don’t use extension cords for permanent use,” said Puknaitis. “Be cognizant of the facts that those cords can overheat, they can cause problems very quickly and fires that can spread throughout your home.”

Thwarting porch pirates

Black Friday comes on the heels of Thanksgiving, and marks the most popular shopping day of the year. Gifts delivered right to your door may be convenient, but they’re also an easy target for holiday grinches.

Police always see a rise in package thefts this time of year, but say there are ways to prevent this crime of opportunity.

“The number one thing to do is to either be home when your package is being delivered, have it delivered somewhere else, or have a neighbor deliver your package,” said Sergeant Johnsen.

It’s probably best to err on the side of caution during the holidays, Johnsen warns. Speaking out could help you and the rest of the families on your street.

“You know your neighborhood the best. If you see something that looks suspicious, give us a call,” said Johnsen. “We would rather deal with your call, and find out it’s nothing, then find out that you didn’t call and your neighbor’s house got burglarized or their car got broken into.”

Another suggestion from law enforcement is to consider investing in a Ring doorbell. One lucky resident received one from the Naperville Police Department in a raffle drawing on Wednesday night.

Just another way to guarantee that the holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year.

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