Silver City --  Silver City Chief of Police, Freddie Portillo, and Fire Chief Milo Lambert are once again urging residents to take extra care to avoid thefts, traffic citations and even personal injury.  The holidays may be merry, but also fraught with added stress, and more opportunity for local burglaries, larceny and theft, not to mention increased fire safety hazards. Both offered tips for a safe, secure holiday season.

"First, drivers need to slow down and pay attention to driving," said Chief Portillo. "Officers are being very proactive, watching for speeding motorists, people rolling through stop signs or trying to beat red traffic lights.  We will be citing unsafe drivers, heavily enforcing DWIs, and conducting selective traffic enforcement patrols throughout the holiday season. So slow down, obey traffic signs and signals and help keep everyone safe this holiday season."

Proactive policing has resulted in recent arrests, which Portillo hopes will avert property theft and burglaries, which tend to peak during the holiday season. To avoid property theft, Portillo offers the following safety tips:

Watch out for scammers. Don't give out personal information over the telephone or online, particularly social security numbers, address, credit card or bank account information, and only use secure web sites when making online purchases.Leave a radio or TV on when leaving home, as some burglaries occur during daylight hours. Secure gates, close curtains, install motion lights at each entrance, use indoor light timers, and make sure all doors and windows are securely locked.Keep vehicles locked at all times, and make sure that holiday gifts and other valuables are not left inside, even for a short period of time. Lock them in the trunk while making other stops, and take them inside once home.Consider using two keys in order to lock your vehicle as it's warming up.Take an extra moment to be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious persons, activity or vehicles to central dispatch by calling (575) 388-8840.If you are expecting package deliveries, get them indoors ASAP; ask a trustworthy neighbor to take them inside if you won't be at home.Close the curtains to prevent potential thieves from eyeing presents under the Christmas tree.

Fire is always a potential hazard, but more so during the holidays, says Chief Lambert, adding that more house fires and home fire deaths occur between December and February.

"Home owners need to be sure they have working fire extinguishers on hand and know how to use them," he said, reminding residents that firefighters are available to come to residents' homes to train homeowners on the proper use of fire extinguishers.

Lambert also encourages people to reconsider highly flammable Christmas trees, which are covered with lights that can malfunction or overheat, not to mention tinsel and wrapped gifts. "An average tree will go up in smoke in approximately 17 seconds," he said. "I hate to be a scrooge, but most people don't understand how quickly fire spreads."

Home heating equipment, especially space heaters, are the second most common cause of house fires, and the primary source of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Lambert urges homeowners, landlords and tenants to make sure they have carbon monoxide detectors mounted in each bedroom on the wall, head-high when lying in bed. Common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, light headedness and drowsiness. 

Furnaces and chimneys should also be cleaned and inspected each season before use to ensure that all seals, filters and exhaust systems are functioning properly. 

For more information, please contact the Silver City Police Department at (575) 538-3731, Ext. 2, and the Fire Department at Ext. 3.  In an emergency, dial 911.

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