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Agencies urge holiday safety

Jackson Bell

With the mirth and merriment of the holiday season approaching its

zenith, public safety organizations want to remind residents that

safety should come first.

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Burbank Police Lt. Dave Gabriel says residents should be

especially cautious while driving during the holiday season, and

should remember to protect themselves from the seasonal increase in

fraud and auto theft.

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Among the biggest mistakes holiday shoppers make is leaving bags

and packages visible in their vehicles, Gabriel said.

“It only takes an auto burglar a couple of seconds to break into a

car,” he said. “Even if the car alarm goes off, they can still grab

the items and run.”

Residents should also be on guard against bogus charities and

business scams that take advantage of people’s goodwill during the

holidays, Gabriel said.

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“When someone calls or approaches you that you don’t know, assume

that it is fraud,” he said. “Say to them that you want to give to

them, but you want to first look up their information yourself.”

As for traveling the busy roads and freeways between now and New

Year’s Eve, Gabriel said people should only drive when necessary

because a rise in drunken driving incidents is usually proportional

to the amount of seasonal festivities.

The most frequent holiday hazards Burbank firefighters experience

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is when people neglect Christmas tree safety and when candles are

left unattended.

Fire Capt. Ron Bell recommends several safety tips, including

using mini-lights on Christmas trees because they produce less heat;

turning interior and exterior lights off before leaving the house or

going to bed; and keeping trees away from heat sources. Bell also

recommends placing your tree in water and keeping the container

filled; and cutting away sap buildup at the base of the trunk so the

tree can better absorb water.

“This is a terrible time to have a tragedy,” Bell said. “This is a

time for celebration, and everyone can enjoy the holidays by

following basic fire safety.”

The city of Burbank, meanwhile, will collect Christmas trees for

compost between Dec. 26 and Jan. 16 at Brace Canyon Park, 2850 Haven

Way, and Verdugo Park, 3201 W. Verdugo Ave. City trash collectors

will also collect trees curbside from Jan. 5 to 16. For specific times and more information, call 238-3800.


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