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Local government agencies offer holiday tips
by Tribune Staff
Nov 26, 2013 | 1739 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file -- The prize of the weekend is the turkey dinner, but local government agencies are stressing the various dangers of the holiday weekend ranging from traffic and highway violations to possible cooking fires.
Tribune file -- The prize of the weekend is the turkey dinner, but local government agencies are stressing the various dangers of the holiday weekend ranging from traffic and highway violations to possible cooking fires.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend comes with more than just a stuffed stomach and flocking around the television for the Raiders vs. Cowboys game – it comes with heightened risks of kitchen fires and distracted driving.

Local government agencies and law enforcement have teamed up to offer safety tips, ensuring an accident-free Thanksgiving from the highway to the kitchen. Most notably, the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) and the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) urged motorists to take extreme caution on the roads at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Both NHP and NDOT officials acknowledged the heavy traffic on the roadways during the upcoming four-day weekend and said road conditions could turn dangerous quickly. Motorists can keep informed on restricted or closed roads by dialing 511 or checking before driving. Both entities also stressed the dangers of distracted driving.

“It is prohibited to talk on a cell phone unless a driver is using hands-free technology; this includes reading non-voice communication,” NHP Trooper Chuck Allen said. “We are seeing more motorists violating this law by reading emails and texting messages while stopped or stalled in traffic or at a traffic signal.”

Allen added that a citation for running a red light in the Reno-Sparks area can cost more than $200 and will knock four demerit points off a driver’s license.

“We see more red light violations this time of year as motorists hurriedly rush to their next destination,” Allen said. “We also want drivers to be certain the entire intersection is clear before traveling through on a green light. It is also against the law to block an intersection and this practice is seen more frequently during the busy holiday shopping period.”

The roadways are only one of the dangers posed during the rush of holiday shopping and family dinners. Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Amy Ray said Tuesday that Thanksgiving dinner preparation causes a spike in the number of cooking fires in northern Nevada.

From 2009 to 2011, there were an average of about 1,300 cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day, which is more than three times the average daily rate, according to Ray.   

“If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. Not following this advice can be a recipe for disaster on Thanksgiving and throughout the year,” Ray said. “Turkey fryer fires can be explosive and result in serious burns. Only use a turkey fryer outside and away from your home. Never use it in a garage or under porches. Don’t overfill the oil or leave the turkey fryer unattended.”

Ray also offered the following tips when cooking the turkey feast this week: stay near the turkey or stove-top dishes while cooking, keep turkey fryers outdoors and monitor them frequently, test smoke alarms prior to cooking and keep matches and lighters away from children.

The end of turkey dinner for many signals the beginning of Black Friday shopping sales, continuing through the weekend as people begin to check off names on their Christmas gift lists. However, that shopping can be taking place at home as cyber shopping deals have become more popular in recent years.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said the spike in online shopping during the holidays only opens the door for fraud and theft of credit card numbers and identities.

“Even when we take every precaution online, the reality is we have no control over who holds that data on the other end,” Sgt. Dennis Carry of the Sheriff’s Cyber Crimes Unit said. “Great savings can often be obtained by shopping online,” Sergeant Carry said, “But what happens to all that confidential data a shopper submits? What happens when a shopper selects to save their credit card information on a specific website? The reality is, a consumer has no way of knowing if that data, held in cyberspace, will be breached by a hacker.”

Carry said monitoring your credit card statement and keeping away from links to enter a certain website are a couple ways to avoid cyber hackers. He added that not leaving your credit information with a website for “convenience” can help prevent theft, as can bringing in any delivered packages immediately. A final tip from Carry, which can be chalked up to common sense, was “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

“Always use a credit card instead of debit or check,” Carry said. “Credit cards have an additional level of consumer protection in the event of a fraudulent purchase or disputed transactions.”
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