2011-12-08 / Opinion

Check it once, check it twice


’Tis the season to make lists, so here are two that merit an annual review in advance of winter holiday celebrations.

The first comes from the website Staylocal.org, based in New Orleans. Here’s a sampling of the site’s top reasons to shop locally:

— Local ownership means that important decisions are made by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

— Local stores are more likely to carry locally produced foods which supports local agriculture.

— Dollars spent in locally owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.

— Local business owners contribute to more local fundraising and nonprofit organizations.

— Local businesses provide a majority of jobs.

— Local businesses support other local businesses.

— Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

— The business community becomes reflective of this community’s unique culture.

— Local stores in municipal centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

A second list worth scrutinizing comes from Central Maine Power, which reminds customers to observe the following simple safety tips:

— Test smoke detectors and plan emergency fire escape routes.

— The combination of dried Christmas tree limbs and hot lights can be dangerous, so keep the tree fresh. Water the tree liberally — the average tree can consume between a quart and a gallon of water a day. Remove the tree promptly after the holiday or when it becomes dry.

— Decorate the tree with miniature lights. They produce much less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree.

— Keep flammable decorations away from the tree's lights. Also make sure that electric window candles do not touch drapes or other flammable objects.

— Don’t overload electrical circuits or extension cords. Follow the directions on cord labels regarding connecting lights strings and extension cords.

— Keep wires away from toddlers. Push wires toward the center of the tree, and clip them securely to the branches.

— Never use electric lights on metallic trees. Avoid using plastic trees unless they're flame resistant.

— Always turn holiday lights off before going to sleep and when you leave home.

— While decorating the outside of your home, never raise ladders, poles or other extended objects into or near power lines.

This time of year, when the season’s demands and busy-ness throw distractions at us from all directions, is no time to let safety or commitment to the local economy take a holiday.

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