Keeping the holidays bright and safe: a few tips from local law enforcement

If using a live tree, make sure it is well watered.

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


There is a lot of joy during the holidays — and some holiday heartbreaks as well from gifts being stolen to candles turning into fires.


But according to the Kentwood Police Department and the Wyoming Public Safety Department, there are quite a few things you can do to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays without ending up in the emergency room or either of the police departments.


“First and foremost, be aware,” said Kentwood Police’s Capt. Bryan Litwin. “If you are going to a holiday party, don’t post it on social media.


“You post that you are going to a friend’s house for a party and someone you don’t know sees that and decides to go check out your place.”


In fact, many are aware that most people purchase expensive gifts for the holidays — including potential burglars. Always keep your house and garage doors and windows locked. If you are traveling, make sure that your neighbor is aware or have someone check on the house while you are gone. If you live in Kentwood, contact the Kentwood Police Department which offers free vacation check services.


“And be careful positing on social media that you got this great gift for Christmas,” Litwin said. “Even with privacy settings, something can be forward to a friend of a friend of a friend you don’t know.”


While out driving, make sure to stay alert, off the phones, and slow down. “Just don’t be a in rush,” Litwin said. In Michigan, it is a civil infraction to text and drive. Other driving recommendations are keeping at least one car length for each 10 mph of speed between your car and the car ahead and stop sooner than you think.


Candle flames should not exceed the container.

Holiday parties are a lot of fun and it seems like they roll right into each other until suddenly its New Year’s Eve. With all the food, there is drink. There are a lot of options these days for people to find rides to and from places, designated driver, taxi and Uber, which has helped to keep the roads safer, Litwin said. With both Christmas and New Year’s on a weekend, departments like Wyoming and Kentwood will have extra patrols out. “Alcohol does reduce reaction time and with the weather to boot, things can happen,” Litwin said.


During the holidays, there is also an uptick in fires, according to officials from the Wyoming Department of Public Safety Fire Services. The City of Wyoming does have regulations on candles and Christmas trees in public places. At home, fire officials recommend to be aware of your surroundings such as not leaving matches or lighters out for children to find. A few tips:


Candles: Make sure the container is appropriate and the flame does not exceed it. Extinguish candles before leaving a room and make sure flammable items, such as trees, are not nearby. A safe alternative is flameless candles.


Be aware of how many cords you are plugging in.

Fireplace: When emptying the ashes out of a fireplace, make sure to put the ashes in a non-combustable container outside, not in the garage. Often, residents will put the ashes in a bag and set it in their garage not realizing the ashes are still hot and catch their garage on fire, said Wyoming fire service officials.


Trees: If you are using a live tree, make sure to keep it well watered. Ensure that your tree is secured tightly in a stable base and is positioned away from a fireplace or heat source. Make sure cords are plugged in correctly and be aware of the number of extra lights you are adding as it can tax an electrical system.