Protect your family this holiday season

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By Jennifer Raye
Meridian Times staff writer

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP — With the winter and holiday season approaching, families may forget simple, commonsense tips that could prevent fires and hazardous situations.

“Fire emergencies tend to pick up this time of year, so it’s really important for families to prepare for the cold and hazards that could happen during the holiday season,” said Mark Hornberger, fire inspector for Meridian Township.

When fall comes, so do the leaves. Burning leaves is not permitted in Meridian Township. Street-side compost pick-up is available for township residents and is encouraged. Granger Inc., the waste service for the area, also offers composting sites in Lansing.

Lt. Matt Walters of Meridian Township Fire Station 91, said, “As it gets colder, families are using their furnaces more. Make sure those are checked and in good working condition.”  So many of these things are commonsense, but easily forgotten, becoming a potential fire hazard, he said.

Meridian Township has some older houses that use chimneys. Make sure they are cleaned and free of bird nets. “I usually clean mine at the end of spring then, come fall, I know it’s clean and ready to be used,” Hornberger said. Also, space heaters can become hazards if they are too close to draperies, bedding, children and pets.

With the holiday season almost here, emergencies tend to rise not only locally, but nationally, said Hornberger. Around Thanksgiving, many emergencies come from cooking. Follow cooking instructions carefully.

The township’s fire safety website advises, “Put a lid on grease fires. If a fire occurs on the stove, put a hand in the mitt and slide the lid over the pot. NEVER use water on a grease fire. If a fire starts in your oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat.”

Christmas trees and lights must be watched carefully. Many families reuse lights every year. Older lights can become hot and short-circuit easily. LED lights are inexpensive and are safer on live and artificial trees. Homes that choose live Christmas trees need to watch water levels. “Dry Christmas trees are very combustible. They can drink up to a gallon of water every day, so keep an eye on them,” Hornberger said.

Be careful about warming up cars. Warming cars in the garage can cause exhaust to leak in the house.

“In the winter, our biggest problem is trying to find fire hydrants in emergency situations,” Walters said. If residents would just uncover them quickly after the snowplows come through can save precious minutes in emergencies, he said. Homeowners are required to shovel sidewalks in Meridian. Hornberger said, “Snow shoveling can be deceiving, the chance of overexerting yourself is much higher if the snow is heavy. If you feel bad, just call us, we’ll come and check you out.”

In an emergency, call 911. For non-emergencies, call Meridian Township’s Fire Station at 517-853-4791. The Fire Safety Administration building can be reached at 517-853-4700.

Taking quick and inexpensive changes and following the safety tips on the Meridian Township Fire Safety website can ensure a safer season.

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