Whether celebrating the holiday season at home or traveling somewhere, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety encourages people to be safe.
The holidays are a busy time involving numerous activities. With so much happening these next two weeks, DPS officials say it is important to still be safety conscious.
Home fires are more prevalent during the holidays, according to State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman. He says it is important that with so many lights, decorations and special meals, that people realize there are additional fire hazards in the home.
“At this time of year, people are more likely to light fireplaces, use holiday lighting and light candles,” Merriman says. “Make sure you don’t overload electrical circuits, do not leave any fire unattended and have a working smoke alarm on each floor, every sleeping area and each bedroom in the home.”
There will be more people traveling during the holidays as well. Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, says Highway Patrol troopers also will be out on the roads, reminding people to stay safe. He says the troopers also will be enforcing the new directive that calls for citations for all of those in a vehicle not wearing a seatbelt.
“We know people are excited to get where they want to go for the holidays,” Price says. “But make sure you get there safely. Slow down, take your time, don’t become distracted, make adjustments depending on the weather and wear your seatbelt.”
In 2015, there were no motor vehicle crash fatalities during the Christmas reporting period and one during the
New Year’s period. Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety, encourages people to make sure their holidays don’t end in tragedy.
“Few things are worse than having a holiday end in sadness after a loved one dies in a fatal crash,” Axdahl says. “It is a matter of being careful and using common sense. Don’t rush to get to grandma’s; instead be smart and travel safe so you can make this a holiday to remember for all of the right reasons.”
All three DPS officials say despite all of the activities that come with the holidays, people still need to make sure they and their families remain safe.