Mayor's Weekly Column
From the Desk of Mayor Hall
As we celebrate the holidays and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that await in 2012, I hope you take full advantage of the occasion to spend time with family, friends and neighbors. This can be a wonderful time of year for so many reasons: commemorations of religious and cultural heritage, renewing bonds with loved ones, helping others in need, exchanging gifts, and enjoying great parties and family gatherings. Amidst all the merrymaking, please keep in mind a few basic precautions that can help ensure you and your loved ones enjoy a safe holiday season.
With falling temperatures comes an increased reliance on heaters, fireplaces, candles and electrical equipment. These items can pose serious fire risks. There are simple precautions you can take, however, to reduce the risk of a residential fire. Place space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn, such as wallpaper, bedding or clothing. Never leave a space heater operating when you are not in the room, and never use an oven as a supplementary heating device; it can be not only a fire hazard, but also a source of toxic fumes.The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that you only buy space heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) safety listing, and that heaters be kept unplugged when not in use.
Fireplaces and Candles
If you're using a fireplace this season, know that regular cleaning and inspection will help keep you and your family safe from deadly chimney and roof fires. Always check to make sure the damper is open before starting a fire, and never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace, which can emit toxic chemicals. Candles make lovely decorations, of course, but please take care to keep them in stable holders, so they cannot be easily knocked down, and keep them a safe distance from Christmas trees and other flammable items. As with your burning fireplace, never leave a lit candle unattended.
Trees and Lights
Keep your tree stand filled with water at all times. If it becomes dry (and the needles start falling off), it becomes a significant fire hazard and should be discarded. To keep your tree in good health, keep it a good distance from any heat source; your home will be safer and your tree will last longer. If you've decorated your tree or home with holiday lights, it's a good idea to check the wires to for wear or fraying. Unlike fine wine, holiday lights do not get better with age. If they show signs of wear or become warm to the touch, they should be replaced. And remember to always turn them off when leaving the house or turning in for the night.
When on the road, be alert to drive carefully. If you see someone driving aggressively or erratically, remain calm and keep your distance. Honking, flashing headlights, or making gestures could put you in danger. Experts recommend observing the rules of the road and waiting until it's safe before passing or changing lanes.
Note also that there is zero tolerance for drunk driving in the Village. The Village Police Department will be out safeguarding our roads, on the lookout for drivers who may be impaired. It takes only a few drinks to raise blood alcohol content to levels at which it is illegal to drive, and the adverse effects of alcohol on driving ability begin after just one drink. I urge you to make the simple choices that will keep you and others safe. If you plan on drinking, designate a driver or plan ahead to use public transportation.Always buckle up, and never ride with someone you believe has been drinking too much.
It’s not always easy for people to admit that they’ve had too much, or to intervene when someone who is intoxicated plans to get behind the wheel. Standing up to prevent unhealthy choices can take courage. It can also save lives. Let's do everything we can to ensure our collective safety and well-being. By serving as a designated driver, or simply calling a cab to make sure someone gets some safe, you can make an immeasurable contribution to our community.
Should a serious winter storm hit our area, it could potentially cause a loss of heat, power, or telephone service. Government and relief organizations are ready to offer assistance in such a situation, but homeowners can keep safe by being prepared. Important items to have on hand include flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, extra food and water, extra medicine and baby items, first-aid supplies, and working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. An emergency plan for your family is another important step. Talk to your family members about what to do, where to go if evacuating, how to find each other, and how to communicate with each other in the event of an emergency.
I wish you a very happy holiday season and a safe and healthynew year. For more safety resources, visit the Police Department section of Village of Hempstead website: www.villageofhempstead.org. To stay on top of what’s happening in the Village, please join our electronic mailing list by sending your name and email address to Mayor@villageofhempsteadny.gov.
Wayne J. Hall Sr.
Mayor of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead
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