This Citizen Corps News Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources and activities recently announced by federal agencies and Citizen Corps partners.

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Deck the Halls, Don't Burn Them

Holiday decorations can add to the fun and excitement of the season but they can also increase your risk for a home fire. Follow basic safety guidelines to prevent serious electrical and fire hazards during the festivities. As you deck the halls of your home this season, be fire smart:

  • Keep your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles or heat vents;
  • Do not let your tree (artificial or live) block exits;
  • Check light sets for frayed or damaged wiring before using;
  • Always turn off holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed; and
  • Connect no more than three mini light sets for decorating.

If you have a live tree, remember to add water to the tree stand daily. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly. Watch this video by the National Fire Protection Association demonstrating how fast a dry Christmas tree burns compared to one that is watered regularly.

Don't let disaster ruin your holiday! Learn the facts about home holiday fires in support of the America's PrepareAthon ! campaign to increase disaster preparedness in your community.


Who's Watching You?

Still working on that holiday shopping? Whether you choose to hunt for bargains and great deals in store or online, learn how to protect yourself and your belongings . The National Crime Prevention Council encourages these steps and more to stay safe while out shopping this season :

  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle and check the back seat and around the car before getting in;
  • Do not overload yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps; and
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or take them directly home.

Online shopping has become the method of choice for many customers who want to avoid long lines and crowds in stores. While the internet offers convenience, it also provides opportunities for hackers to access personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. There are three common ways attackers target online shoppers. Stay safe while shopping online by:

  • Using anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software;
  • Keeping personal information private and password secure;
  • Shopping with companies you know; and
  • Using secure websites for purchases.

Cyber security is a shared responsibility. Join the Stop.Think.Connect. national campaign to engage your community in promoting cyber security awareness and make using the internet a safer experience for everyone this gift-giving season!


Winterize Your Home

When you put on your winter weather gear to stay warm outside, colder temperatures can mean an increase in energy use to stay warm inside. If you prepare properly, heating your home doesn't have to break the bank. As the mercury dips, ready your abode for sweater weather by following these easy steps to winterize your home :

  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic;
  • Allow faucets to drip a little to prevent pipes from freezing; and
  • Cover windows with plastic to keep the cold air out.

You may choose to use indoor space heaters for added warmth. If not used properly, space heaters can be a very dangerous fire hazard. When purchasing a space heater, look for one that has an automatic shut-off or tip-over switch. Place the heater on a level surface away from high-traffic areas and flammable items such as curtains, bedding or furniture. To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning , make sure the room has enough ventilation.

Get in the energy saving spirit by conducting a home energy assessment . See how much energy your home consumes and evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. Then, check out “ 12 Days of Energy Savings ” from the U.S. Department of Energy to learn things you can do to stay warm while saving money this winter.


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About FEMA

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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