Kadena officials offer holiday safety tips Published Dec. 15, 2008 By Tech. Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena safety, fire and emergency service officials encourage everyone to follow a few safety tips during the holiday season. "Electrical safety is a huge concern during this time of year," said Lorie Bellamy, 18th Wing ground safety manager. To avoid electrical fires, individuals should use only lights that have been tested for safety and bear the appropriate label. Each set of lights should be checked for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. According to Bellamy, no more than three standard-size sets of lights should be used per extension cord unless otherwise stated in the instructions. "Holiday lights should never be left unattended," Bellamy said. Another area of concern is Christmas trees with blinking colored lights and various ornaments. Christmas trees are a major hazard area during this time of year, said Master Sgt. Richard Henderson, 18th Civil Engineering Squadron assistant chief of fire prevention. The most common cause of Christmas tree fires is not giving the tree enough water, said Sergeant Henderson. The tree must be watered daily to keep it from drying. Artificial Christmas trees are safer than live trees, said 18th Wing Chief of Safety, Lt. Col. Andre Briere. However, they should be labeled as fire retardant. Lt. Col. Briere said both artificial and live trees should be kept at least three feet away from any heat source and positioned near an electrical outlet, so that power cords are not stretched over long distances. Lights on the tree should also be mini-cool burning lights with no more than three strands plugged together, according to Ms. Bellamy. "Pay close attention not to allow bulbs to touch combustible materials such as plastics, pine needles, leaves or grass," said Ms. Bellamy. Along with hanging lights, ornaments and other hallmarks of the season, candle safety is also important. Don't place lit candles in windows in close proximity to blinds and curtains, said Ms. Bellamy. She added that candles need to be kept away from children and extinguished before people leave the house or go to sleep. Food is another major ingredient of holiday celebrations, but cooking is also fraught with certain dangers. The 18th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services urge Kadena base residents to avoid the most common fire hazards associated with cooking. "Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires," said Sergeant Henderson. He stressed that cooking should not be left unattended and that a serviceable fire extinguisher needs to be ready for use at a moment's notice. Turkey frying is becoming a popular method of preparing a holiday turkey, even though it is the most hazardous and not recommended by the National Fire Protection Association or the Kadena Fire Department. "If you decide to fry your turkey," said Sergeant Henderson. "Ensure it is done with a proper turkey fryer outdoors." The safety office also encourages travelers to stay safe while driving in unfamiliar conditions. "Many of our Team Kadena personnel will be traveling back to the states," said Colonel Briere. "They need to be mindful of the risks associated with driving in snow and ice." While social gathering can be fun, the chief of safety encourages everyone to drink in moderation or not at all and to drive safely. "The 18th Wing needs its members and their families to have a safe holiday season, safe travels, and a happy new year," said the colonel. If you have any safety questions, contact the Kadena Fire Prevention Flight at 634-4500 or the Kadena Fire Department at 634-6011. If you need emergency medical or fire assistance call 911 on base, 119 off base, or 098-934-5911 from a cell phone.