Baltimore County Now
Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz
Everyone has a favorite time of year, and although I no longer welcome the cold Maryland winters, I do long for December. For me, it is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Whether cutting down a Christmas tree, decorating the house, baking cookies or socializing with friends, I couldn’t find more happiness than I do during this time of year.
Still, as I relax by the fire, watch the lights glimmer and listen to the sounds of the season, I am reminded of the danger that all of this beauty can bring. In my nearly 14 years with the Baltimore County Fire Department, I have witnessed a lot of misfortune – but it is especially devastating when fires happen at such a wonderful time of year.
The good news is that fire is preventable. Here are reminders to keep your family safe as you celebrate.
· Cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of house fires and associated injuries. When cooking your holiday favorites, stay in the kitchen at all times. Do not let children near ovens and range tops. If the oven catches fire, turn it off, keep the door closed and call 911. Always keep a lid nearby if a pot catches fire; use the lid to smother the fire. Never put water on a grease fire; it will spread the fire! Get out of the house, and stay out until the fire department arrives.
· Decorations: Look for packages marked as flame resistant or retardant. Always keep combustible decorations away from any type of heat source. If you are using mini lights, string no more than three sets together and make sure the cords are not damaged. If you choose screw-in bulbs, use no more than 50 per set; and always check the manufacturers label on LED light sets for directions. Keep extension cords to a minimum, never run them under carpets, and if used outside keep plugs and cords free from standing water or snow. Do not use nails to hang lights, always use clips that won’t damage or cut through the cords. Call an electrician if lights flicker or fuses blow. Finally, always turn off lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
· Candles: Keep open flame candles at least 12 inches from anything that can catch fire. Watch children and pets carefully when using candles. Use a sturdy candle holder. Consider electric or flameless candles.
· Christmas Trees: The smell and tradition of a fresh cut tree is priceless. If your family chooses a live tree, keep it watered daily. Always unplug the lights before going to bed or leaving the home, and keep the tree at least three feet from heat sources.
· Carbon Monoxide: One final warning during this holiday season is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A faulty furnace, water heater or other gas appliance can emit carbon monoxide. Clogged chimneys, running vehicles and generators too close to the house also will cause a buildup of this deadly gas.
As you celebrate the holidays and spend time with family, remember these tips and stay safe!
Jordan Fish, Baltimore County Tourism & Promotion
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, Baltimore County is in the holiday spirit! Be sure to check our list of the many events and programs going on around the County during the month of December. From train gardens to tree lightings – it’s the most wonderful time of the year in Baltimore County!
Christmas Open House at Basignani Winery - Christmas time very special at Basignani Winery. Visit the north Baltimore County winery for its annual celebration of the Tuscan Christmas. Experience an Italian Christmas as Basignani transforms the tasting room and piazza into a little piece of Tuscany. Taste the wines and try some seasonal Tuscan Christmas treats.
December Saturdays at DeJon Vineyards - Join DeJon Vineyards, located in Hydes, during the first 3 Saturdays of December for free live music, tasty treats, and decorative scenery. They deck the halls with a giant Christmas tree and train garden in the tasting room. Each week different acoustic musicians will perform classic holiday songs, as well as their regular catalog of tunes.
Holiday Hoopla - December 7th is the official start of the holiday season in Dundalk! The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation joins forces with Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation to create a day with lots of tradition, memory-making and fun for all ages. Some of the event highlights include a parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a delicious cookie tour, and the train garden at the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum.
Holidays at Hampton....a Yuletide Celebration - Get into the holiday spirit early with “Holidays at Hampton” where the public can celebrate the season at Hampton Mansion, Baltimore County's only National Park. The “Holidays at Hampton” Yuletide weekend, Dec. 13th - 15th, includes special evening tours, antique cars, period crafts, musical and dance performances, African-American storytelling and unique holiday shopping in the Museum Shop. All of the festivities are free and open to the public.
Holiday Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland - Kids of all ages will enjoy the Holiday Train Garden at the Fire Museum of Maryland. The layout features the Bromo Seltzer Tower and a burning building, complete with fire engines and hoses crisscrossing the fire ground. Watch Antique O-Scale trains and a street car wind their way past many of Baltimore’s famous neighborhoods and landmarks.
Jacksonville in Miniature for the Holidays - Now in its third year, Jacksonville in Miniature has grown into an animated wonderland. Train team members combine their talents to create replicas of local landmarks, scenes of "life in Jacksonville", and, of course, operating model trains. Located at the Jacksonville Senior Center, the 2013 display is expanding beyond Jacksonville to include the Ocean City boardwalk and the Washington D.C. Mall.
Towson WinterFest - Presented by the Towson Chamber of Commerce, WinterFest features numerous events in the downtown Towson area throughout December. Activities range from family friendly breakfasts with the Grinch and Frosty, to Ho Ho Happy Hours at area bars and restaurants. Check out the full schedule of events.
Wine Country Christmas at Boordy Vineyards – On December Saturdays, through the 21st, Boordy's Barn is the perfect setting for seasonal merry-making with traditional music, a tour of the winery, and steaming Wassail (a specialty from Boordy for over twenty-five years). Wines may be purchased by the glass or bottle for enjoying in the barn with your friends. The wine shop will be brimming with gifts for the hard to please wine lovers!
To find out about other great happenings in Baltimore County throughout the year, visit the Baltimore County Tourism and Promotion events calendar.