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Forsyth officials: how to keep home, family safe during holiday
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To keep Christmas holly and jolly, Forsyth officials, along with the Georgia Department of Transportation, are offering holiday tips to keep the spirit bright — and safe — for all in the county.

In order to ease traffic congestion, GDOT will suspend construction-related lane closures on interstate highways, heavily traveled state routes and roadways near major shopping areas and tourist locations from 5 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23 to 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26.

Restrictions will also be in place for New Year’s weekend from 5 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 to 5 a.m. Monday, Jan.a 2.

In a news release, GDOT asked drivers to “exercise caution as crews may still work in proximity to highways and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain in place. Also, incident management or emergency, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary at any time on any interstate or state route.”

The Department also said the state’s move-over law “requires drivers to move-over one lane when a law enforcement, emergency vehicle or construction crew is on the side of the road and displaying flashing emergency lights. If it is unsafe to move over, then slow down below the posted speed.”

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department also offered residents safety reminders.

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Travel safety

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• Check a car’s oil, transmission, coolant, and washer fluids before traveling to a holiday destination

• Make sure tires are properly inflated and that a vehicle is equipped with a jack and a spare tire

• Check weather conditions for your travel route and destinations

• Make sure your windshield wiper blades work and consider stocking appropriate emergency items such as snow chains, blankets, flashlights, etc.

• If traveling in inclement weather, maintain at least half a tank of gas at all times to prevent running out of gas in the middle of an unexpected storm

• Have a fully charged cell phone with a car charger

• Provide a trusted friend or family member (who won’t be traveling with you) with your travel itinerary

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Holiday cooking

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“Residential cooking in the home is the leading cause of residential structure fires in America,” Forsyth County Fire Department Jason Shivers said. “Around the holiday season, that number actually increases pretty significantly as families gather around the kitchen and folks cook large meals. But there are a number of things you can do to prevent fire.”

• Make sure the stove and oven are clean and free of heavy grease or other food buildup

• Don’t leave the kitchen when cooking, and make sure food is accounted for while on the stove or in the oven

• If food on the stovetop catches fire, douse it with water and remove from the burner. In the case of a grease fire, put a lid over the burning area — never try to douse it with water

• Keep the handles of pots, pans and other cooking devices turned towards the back or center of the stove, not sticking out toward the front

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Trees and candles

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• Keep candles away from children and pets

• Don’t place candles near Christmas trees or other flammable items

• Never leave a room or the house without blowing out a candle

• Burn candles in proper containers; don’t leave out, unconfined on a surface

• Do not place a tree near a fireplace to avoid sparks from jumping onto branches

• If you use a live Christmas tree, make sure it stays hydrated and never runs out of water.