The holiday season is a time for joyous celebrations, beloved traditions, and long-awaited gatherings with family and friends. While everyone should experience the joy and warmth of holiday festivities, safety should always remain a priority. No matter how you celebrate, the City of Long Beach is offering the following tips to ensure an enjoyable, safe and hazard-free holiday season for all.
Decorating is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit but can also be a common source of household fires. Decorate safely and with care by following these guidelines:
Place Christmas trees at least three feet away from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Remember to add water to the tree stand daily to prevent drying out.
Replace any light strings that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, and use clips, not nails, to hang lights to prevent damaging cords. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children and pets can reach them. Always turn off all light strings and tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Candles should be kept away from decorations and other things that can burn, and instead of using open-flame candles for a table centerpiece or decor, opt for battery-operated instead.
Keep potentially poisonous plants, such as mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis, away from children and pets.
With the hustle and bustle of entertaining family and friends during the holidays, it is important to follow the below steps to ensure everyone remains safe, healthy and injury free.
If entertaining in the evening, ensure your entryway is well-lit so guests have a safe walkway into your residence. Also consider removing low-to-the-ground décor or small furniture inside or outside to avoid bumping, tripping or falling.
Always stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop; unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and casualties, which increase each year during the holiday season. If using the oven, be sure to check it regularly, use a timer and remain home while food is cooking.
Always keep children and pets away from hot stoves as well as hot food and liquids, as steam or splash could cause serious burns. Lit candles, matches and lighters should be kept up high and out of reach of children and pets.
When cooking a turkey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that improper handling or undercooking can lead to food poisoning and illness and offers guidelines to avoid poultry-related foodborne outbreaks.
Test smoke alarms and tell guests about your fire escape plan. Don’t have an emergency plan? Follow these steps to get you and your family prepared.
Provide a quiet, dark space for your pets to retreat to if they become overwhelmed by guests.
During the holidays, it is especially important to note the importance of not driving while impaired or distracted. DUI-related traffic accidents typically increase during the holiday season; in Long Beach, DUI-related traffic collisions claimed the lives of five people in 2021 and five people in 2022. The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) will have officers proactively engaging the community and saturation patrol to ensure safety within the community.
Below are important safety reminders to ensure drivers, pedestrians and all commuters practice safe, responsible behavior:
Driving under the influence is more than drunk driving: it includes cannabis and some prescription and over-the-counter drugs, in addition to illegal drugs. To prevent injury to yourself and others, designate a sober driver or use a rideshare service or public transit to get to and from your destination.
Distracted driving poses serious threat to people’s safety. Drivers need to take extra time looking for pedestrians at intersections and driveways. Plan routes in advance and always avoid texting or otherwise using a cell phone while driving.
Pedestrians and bicyclists should maintain strict awareness of their surroundings, especially at night and when crossing streets, even when crossing in a marked crosswalk.
With respiratory viruses such as Influenza (flu) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) currently circulating at higher rates than usual for this time of year, and with COVID-19 cases steadily increasing, the City’s Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) recommends that people take the following steps below to avoid endangering those at high risk, such as older adults and young children:
Consider outdoor gatherings. Activities that take place outdoors are safer than indoor activities with regards to spreading viruses and germs. Try to avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
Wear a mask when indoors (if 2 years old or older), especially if you are at high risk for severe disease and after close contact with someone who is known to be sick or who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Get vaccinated with the 2023 updated COVID-19 and flu vaccines right now.
Vaccines continue to be the easiest and best defenses against severe COVID-19 illness. People may receive their flu shot at the same time as their COVID-19 updated vaccine. City-run vaccine sites offer COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured and underinsured individuals. People with insurance can get vaccinated for COVID-19 at pharmacies. To view the most up-to-date vaccine clinic schedule and to schedule an appointment, visit longbeach.gov/vaxLB or call 562.570.4636. It is recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine and the 2023 updated COVID-19 vaccine.
People experiencing congestion or a runny nose, the sniffles, sore throat, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea should get tested for COVID-19. People can buy rapid over the counter COVID-19 tests at most pharmacies.
If you are sick or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, the best thing to do for everyone is to rest at home.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before, during and after preparing food, before and after eating food, after using the restroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Prevent Package Thefts
To prevent package thefts and/or burglaries, the LBPD is issuing the following tips to help keep holiday packages safe:
If out of town, have packages delivered to a store, facility or a trusted neighbor and/or schedule package deliveries for when someone will be home.
Opt for providing special instructions to delivery services. When able, ask for your delivery to be placed in a hidden area, such as on the side of your home or behind plants or other objects.
When able, immediately bring in packages as soon as they arrive. Additionally, if possible, install exterior motion sensor lighting and home security cameras at your residence.
Additional crime prevention tips are available here.
Fireworks Safety and Reporting and Other Illegal Activity
While fireworks are often used to mark special occasions and holidays, they are not safe in the hands of consumers and are best left to the professionals. This New Year’s Eve, residents can enjoy two professional fireworks shows, presented by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, at 9 p.m. and midnight along the downtown waterfront.
The City reminds everyone that all personal fireworks, including sparklers and those labeled “Safe and Sane,” are prohibited within Long Beach city limits. The City encourages people to report illegal firework usage; additional information is available at longbeach.gov/fireworks.
“Celebratory” gunfire is considered an illegal discharge of a firearm and is very dangerous. Discharging a firearm for celebratory purposes could result in injury or death to anyone struck, and jail time for the offenders.
In Case of Emergency
Community members are encouraged to practice “See Something, Say Something” and report any dangerous or illegal activities to the Long Beach Police Department. For emergencies, dial 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, people can dial the non-emergency phone tree at 562.435.6711, which connects callers directly to a pre-recorded list of commonly requested non-emergency City services.
By celebrating the holiday season safely, collectively we can help achieve a safe Long Beach for all.
Media inquiries may be directed to the Office of Public Affairs and Communications at 562.570.6397 or LongBeachMedia@longbeach.gov.
About the Celebrate Safely Campaign
The City of Long Beach launched the Celebrate Safely campaign in 2019 to provide information, resources and ongoing safety messaging for the Fourth of July holiday, in addition to several other holidays where fireworks are often used. The campaign has since served as an ongoing platform to educate community members about the importance of participating in safe, family friendly activities for holidays throughout the year.