• Tyler King, 8, tries his hand at being a firefighter at the Vernondale Village Safety and Security Day at the Vernondale Community Center. Sponsored by the Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club, the event featured fire safety briefings by the Fort Belvoir fire marshal, fingerprint I.D. kits and interaction with Fort Belvoir Police and Fire Departments.

    Safety and Security Day 1

    Tyler King, 8, tries his hand at being a firefighter at the Vernondale Village Safety and Security Day at the Vernondale Community Center. Sponsored by the Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club, the event featured fire safety briefings by the Fort Belvoir fire...

  • Gianna Rivera, 5, is fingerprinted by her mother, Jennifer, at the Vernondale Village Safety and Security Day at the Vernondale Community Center.

    Safety and Security Day 2

    Gianna Rivera, 5, is fingerprinted by her mother, Jennifer, at the Vernondale Village Safety and Security Day at the Vernondale Community Center.

Members of the Fort Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club hosted their second Safety and Security Day at Vernondale Village Neighborhood Center on Saturday to inform Vernondale residents of holiday safety tips and to foster better community relationships.
The BESC wants residents to know the proper precautions to take during the holiday season to avoid senseless tragedies and have fun.
"We just want residents to feel more secure in their homes," said Barbara Zimmerman, BESC president. "There are a lot of opportunities for tragedies to happen, and some of them are so easily avoidable. It just takes a little bit of effort and a little bit of know-how and your holidays can be safe and happy."
With many Families baking cookies and other treats during the holiday season, and the number of people who go Christmas shopping, Zimmerman specifically targeted this month for the club's second safety and security day.
"People will be working in their ovens a little more than usual. Maybe they are going to try frying a turkey for the first time and that can be a dangerous situation," said Zimmerman.
She also wanted to touch on shopping security
"I had a friend who was robbed at gunpoint because she was carrying PlayStation 3s to her car that she had bought for Soldiers. We usually go by ourselves, but you need to have a friend or your spouse with you," Zimmerman added. "That's why this is an important event because we talk about the possibilities and it helps you find ways to go about your holiday as safely as possible."
These events are community-building opportunities that help residents take better care of each other, according to Zimmerman. The more you know your neighbors, the easier it will be for you to detect suspicious behavior, she added.
"The more familiar you are with your neighbor the safer your community can be because it lessens the possibilities for vandalism and teenagers getting into rough spots," said Zimmerman.
Fort Belvoir Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Chester D. Grelock was impressed with the BESC's willingness to step up and help the community.
"They saw a need and wrapped their arms around it," said Grelock. "I think it's great."
He also said that events like this one are a way to foster better relationships in the community.
"It's an outreach and a way to pass along information," said Grelock. "That alone will bring a community together because it shows a group willing to give up their time to help the community."
Fort Belvoir Fire Department talked to club members and residents about Christmas tree safety, smoke detector maintenance and properly using space heaters.
John Weaver, Fort Belvoir Fire Marshall, handled the discussions.
Christmas Trees
"If you buy a live tree, make sure the needles don't fall out because it means it's dry," said Weaver. "Make sure you sit it in water at room temperature for 24-hours before you decorate it."
He added that trees need to be watered every day and residents need to be constantly aware of their tree's hydration. If needles are falling out of the tree, it's time to get rid of it.
"It's recommended a live tree is only good for two weeks in the house," said Weaver. "When you see needles falling out of the tree, you need to get rid of it because it only takes three seconds for a Christmas tree to catch on fire and 40 seconds for it to engulf."
Space Heaters
Space heaters should not be set on top of combustibles like clothing, near couches or curtains. Residents should also make sure they use an oil-filled heater because it's a closed unit.
Weaver also said to be sure to take a kerosene, or other liquid-fueled heater, outside when refilling it.
"A guy in Prince George's County just died because he filled up his kerosene heater inside and the vapors caught the house on fire," said Weaver. "Make sure you turn the heater off, let it cool down and take it outside to refill it. Also, do not use gas. Make sure you use the fuel that's recommended for that kind of unit and make sure you have a three foot clearance around any unit like that."
Grelock said being reminded of common safety tips is important because over the course of time people forget them.
"It's always good when we reset what we do and get down to the basics and have the professionals come out and remind everyone of that," said Grelock. "That's something we can never get enough of."
Residents having the knowledge to better protect their Families and neighborhood is worth putting in the effort to organize the event, said Zimmerman.
"It's hard as a parent to think about the bad stuff but, unfortunately, that's the kind of world we live in," said Zimmerman. "It's better to be prepared than not be prepared."

Page last updated Fri December 7th, 2012 at 00:00