VUPS offers tips to keep your holidays safe

Vanderbilt University Public Safety would like to wish everyone a safe and joyful holiday season by recommending the following security and safety tips.

Security tips

Holiday shopping safety:

  • When shopping, keep valuable items out of sight and keep your car locked at all times.
  • Park in well-lit areas when possible.
  • Keep a limited amount of cash or use a debit/credit card instead.
  • Shop with a friend or family member. There’s safety in numbers.

Utilize the VUPS mobile safety app, VandySafe, to communicate with VUPD directly. With VandySafe, users can call or chat with VUPD communications officers 24/7. With the days getting darker earlier, we recommend using the Virtual Walkhome feature, which allows communications officers to monitor your walk across campus or to your car, class or office.

To learn about these or additional features, please visit the website.

Electrical safety

You can prevent electrical fires by following these simple guidelines:

  • Do not use damaged equipment or frayed electrical cords.
  • Arrange electrical cords so that they are not a trip hazard or prone to damage by furniture or doors.
  • Minimize the use of extension cords/power strips. Avoid running extension cords under carpets or across doorways.
  • Avoid overloading outlets and always follow manufacturers’ instructions.

As we approach winter and the days are getting colder, many people will use portable space heaters and similar heating equipment. The National Fire Protection Association’s research on home fires involving heating equipment revealed space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires, accounting for 84 percent of associated civilian deaths from 2009 to 2013. Research on this topic also showed that many home fires were caused by heating equipment being placed too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, mattresses or bedding. Remember to keep all heating equipment away from the Christmas tree.

For more information about electrical safety and to download a PDF for your office, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website.

Holiday decorating safety

The NFPA provides a home Christmas tree fires fact sheet, which states, “U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 210 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2010-14. These fires caused an annual average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage.”

Check out the NFPA’s Christmas tree safety overview for topics on picking, placing and lighting the tree.

Additional decorating tips:

  • Use a ladder to decorate in high places. Never stand on the top step or overreach—if an item or area is out of reach, get down from the ladder, readjust the placement, and try again.
  • Use clips instead of nails when hanging lights. Nails may damage the wiring and cause an electrical or fire hazard.
  • When looking for new holiday decorations, choose items that are either flame resistant or flame retardant.

More tips on holiday decorating can be found on the NFPA website.

Candle use

For many, candles are an excellent addition to holiday décor. However, candles can quickly become an out-of-control fire if not managed properly. According to the NFPA, “one-third of decoration fires are started by candles.”

  • Do not leave lit candles unattended.
  • Never put a candle or another heat source close to your Christmas tree.
  • Always blow out all lit candles and unplug decorative lights before going to bed.
  • Check to make sure your home is equipped with up-to-date fire safety equipment, such as smoke detectors.