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SCV Sheriff's Station deputies offer holiday safety tips

Posted: December 23, 2009 1:00 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2009 2:35 p.m.
 
The holiday season is a time of generosity and peace. Family and friends gather to celebrate and reflect on another year gone by.

As we enter into the season, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station would like to remind all residents to celebrate responsibly and keep safety and the law in mind when trying out those new gifts or children's' toys.

Every year kids, teenagers, and even we adults get great gifts like scooters, bicycles, motorcycles, electronic devices, air guns, projectile launchers, go karts, model powered airplanes, battery operated vehicles, and even small toys with plastic wrapping and small pieces.

Although we are excited when we receive these gifts and want to jump right in and use them, ride them, or play with them, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station personnel would like to remind everyone to slow down and take a moment to figure things out first.

As a result, we are offering a few holiday reminders, safety tips, and local laws to consider this holiday:
* Take an extra minute and read the directions or operating instructions thoroughly.
* Take note of required/recommended safety or protective equipment that may not be included with the gift.
* Keep small objects, plastic wrap, and other choking hazards away from the little ones and pets.
* Obey all laws, including those pertaining to bicycle riding, skateboarding, and off-road motorcycle or ATV use.
* Motorists should slow down and take extra precautions when driving down residential streets as more children will be out trying that new bicycle or toy.
* Keep an eye on children near holiday trees, candles, and fireplaces.
* Dispose of wrapping paper and gift boxes in a trash or recycle receptacle. Do not burn them in a fireplace.
* Follow recommended age ranges on toy packages. Toys that are too advanced could pose a safety hazard for younger children.
* To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give very young children a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
* Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
* Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
* Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
* Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
* Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters, stoves, and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child's exploring hands.

Just a few laws to remember:
OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES (OHV):
* At this time, there are no legal riding areas anywhere in the Santa Clarita Valley for off-highway vehicles (OHV), including off-road motorcycles. Rowher Flats OHV area and Drinkwater Flats remain closed due to fire restoration. The closest legal OHV riding areas are Hungry Valley State Park in Gorman and El Mirage Dry Lake in the Antelope Valley. Citations for riding in closed areas can range from $50.00 to $1,300, with additional fines levied for additional offenses.
* In the legal OHV riding areas, helmets are required by all ATV riders.
* Unless specifically marked or indicated, children under 16 are prohibited from riding ATV's.
* Additionally, on smaller ATV's that are approved for minors, the ATV (minor) rider must be within 100' of an adult who has taken an approved ATV safety course. More info can be obtained at OHV dealerships.
* Spark arrestors are required on all Off-Highway vehicles and the fines are typically around $600.00.
* Any Off-Highway vehicle caught riding on a public street can be impounded and the driver cited or arrested with the fines totaling in the thousands.

Visit the following link for additional information: Off-road Enforcement Program.

MODEL AIRPLANES:
* A person shall not operate model airplanes, boats or crafts except in areas designated for such use, and subject to all rules and regulations contained in such written permission.

SKATEBOARDING:
While the act of skateboarding is not a crime, trespassing and vandalism are both crimes. Skating is allowed in parts of the city and county areas, but it is not allowed at places such as:
* School Campus
* Public Shopping Centers (where signs are posted)
* Public Roadways (with a grade in excess of three (3) percent)

* Protective equipment is required. All persons skateboarding, or roller skating, including in-line skating, at a skateboard park owned or operated by the cty of Santa Clarita or the county of Los Angeles shall wear protective equipment including, at a minimum, a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads.

MOTORIZED SCOOTERS AND SKATEBOARDS:
* Riders must be 16 years of age, must wear an approved helmet, must posses a valid driver's license or instruction permit, and the scooters may only be driven on the right side of the roadway on streets with speed limits no more than 25 mph. They may NOT be driven on sidewalks or on any other street.

STREET LEGAL MOTORCYCLES:
* A driver and any passenger shall wear an approved safety helmet when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.

BICYCLES:
* Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle.
* A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a non-motorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.

These are just a few of the many safety tips, recommendations, reminders, and laws that can help make your holiday season safe and bright. By following these and other precautionary holiday safety guidelines and making responsible choices, we can all have the peaceful and uneventful holiday experience we envision and deserve. Visit the "Safety Tips" portion of our Web site for additional information.

On behalf of all the staff at your Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, Happy Holidays!

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