'Tis the season to think safety Published Nov. 29, 2007 By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace 436th AW Public Affairs DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The smell of cinnamon and gingerbread is in the air. The brisk winter has set in - Thanksgiving has past, it's now time for the holidays. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly," echoes throughout the house as a family trims their Christmas tree and lines their rooftop with decorative lights. "Tis the season to be jolly," continues the song. All is joyous and merry ... then. Stop! How merry would your holiday season be if instead of decking your halls, you burned them down? In this festive season, the 436th Airlift Wing Safety Office wants to remind Team Dover to stay safe and keep their families and friends safe throughout December and into the New Year. When decorating, members should keep in mind the types of decorations they are using and particular hazards that may be associated with them. "For example, care should always be taken when dealing with electricity," said Lorie Bellamy, 436th AW Safety Office. "When you use extension cords, ensure they are rated for the work being done. For example, an extension cord used outside the home should be rated for outdoor use. Also, be sure not to plug an extension cord into another extension cord as daisy chaining or overloading outlets can cause a fire." Another aspect of decorating to be aware of is that people should wear gloves while decorating with spun glass 'angel hair,' as it can irritate the eyes and skin, said Ms. Bellamy. A common substitute to angel hair is non-flammable cotton, she added. Both angel hair and cotton snow are flame retardant when used alone. However, if artificial snow is sprayed onto them, the dried combination will burn rapidly. Additionally, she continued, when spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow the directions on the container carefully. These sprays can irritate the lungs if inhaled. Most sprays will contain safety or hazard warning on the container, heed the warnings. Another hazard common to the holidays are candles. The Safety Office warns Airmen to never use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains, drapes or with any potentially flammable item. For dormitory residents, use of candles is forbidden in any circumstance. In addition to deocrating, the holidays often mean preparing large meals for family and friends, according to the National Safety Council. Wash hands, utensils, sink and anything else that has come in contact with raw poultry. Keep in mind that a stuffed bird takes longer to cook. For questions concerning holiday turkey preparation and cooking call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555. The NSC also warns consumers to refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers (less than two inches deep) within two hours after cooking. Date the leftovers for future use. Any Team Dover member who has watched the news recently has surely seen the numerous world-wide toy recalls. "Be really careful when you choose toys this year," said Ms. Bellamy. "Some toy stores check for lead on toys, but this is not guaranteed. It is wise to keep current on toy recalls and also consider buying an over-the-counter lead-checking device to help ensure your children or relatives remain safe." Also, for small children and infants, be sure their gift are not ones that could get caught in their throat, nose or ears, added Ms. Bellamy. Often, the holidays are a time for Airmen of age to attend social events and parties and often partake in the consumption of alcohol. "Drinking in itself is not discouraged provided the Airman is of age, responsible and does not overdo it," said Ms. Bellamy. "The key is to party smart and have a sensible, pre-thought-out plan and stick to it! "More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related," she continued. "Use designated drivers, call AADD or even a supervisor if you need a ride." Lastly, the holidays are a time to enjoy. Still, for many, according to the NSC, they are often the most stressful times of the year. Stress cannot be avoided completely. But, Team Dover members can give themselves relief. Allow enough time to shop rather than hurry through stores and parking lots, stated the NSC Website. Only plan to do a reasonable number of errands. When shopping, make several trips out to the car to drop off packages rather than trying to carry too many items. Take time out for yourself. Relax, read, or enjoy your favorite hobby at your own pace. With common sense, the holiday season can be joyous for all of Team Dover. For information, call the Safety Office at 677-3369. Also, information is available at www.nsc.org.