As Houstonians trim their Christmas trees and light candles for the holidays, sometimes safety takes a back seat to the festivities. Seniors are especially vulnerable as they try to remain active.
Bobby Murphy is safety and risk manager for the Houston Housing Authority. It owns 19 properties that are occupied with seniors. He says they make it a habit to go to all the properties to remind residents about the things they already know.
"The Housing Authority has a lot of parties and activities for them to keep them mentally prepared, and try to get them together so they can be around other people, but once they're alone in their apartments, it can be most devastating during the holiday season."
Murphy says they remind residents to make sure that holiday lights, including those on a tree from a lit candle, are turned off before going to bed or leaving home, that electrical outlets are not overloaded, that natural trees are kept
hydrated with plenty of water, and that families know how to access and use a fire extinguisher and have a fire escape plan.
"Its mandatory from the Houston Fire Department, National Fire Prevention Agency, all kinds of insurance companies require it. As safety and risk officer, it's my job to make sure these are all in compliance."
More than 400 people die each year from fires and about 20,000 are injured. The Authority's Dennis Spellman says these safety tips are good for everyone to remember.
"We're not only helping the people who live in our properties. But by having you here, you pick up on the story and then broadcast to everybody because its about keeping all Houstonians safe this holiday season."
Fire safety tips during the holidays can be found on the U.S. Fire Administration website.