When the holidays arrive, things become quite hectic, making it easy to forget the little details that keep us safe. Adding to the difficulty, we also face many challenges that come with the season, such as lights and decorations, being away from home for extended periods and having a Christmas tree in our home.
These holiday home safety tips will help avoid the need to call your home insurance broker when they don’t take proper precautions during this festive time of year.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
The holidays would not be complete without a Christmas tree. However, as lovely as they are, Christmas trees and other holiday décor present several risks if not set up and cared for properly. Follow these rules to keep everyone safe:
1. Artificial trees
If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it is high-quality and fire-resistant. Ensure your tree is sturdy, and if it seems it could be knocked over easily, secure it properly. This is especially important if you have pets or small children. A solid, heavy base should help stop the tree from falling over.
2. Live trees
For live trees they come with their own set of risks. As with artificial trees, you want to ensure you have a sturdy stand or that the tree is secured to avoid it falling over. Live trees must be watered every day to remain green and fresh. If not, they become a fire hazard, especially if you have lights or tend to keep candles lit nearby.
With high winds, snow and ice, your decorations are at risk of falling if not appropriately secured. Make sure everything is securely attached to your home to withstand the winds and winter weather.
Remember you must use lights designated for outdoor use, even if a porch or roof covers them. Also, make sure you keep your property clear of snow and ice so guests, delivery people, and family members don’t take a fall.
To keep safe during the festivities, follow these tips:
1. Candles and decorations
If you must use candles, ensure they are in proper candle stands where the flame stays inside the container and not as an open flame. Also, always blow out the candles and make sure it is fully extinguished when you leave the room.
Remember, decorations can pose a fire hazard if they come into contact with heaters. All decorations should be kept away from any heat sources. If decorating your mantel for your fireplace, remember that all surfaces of the fireplace can heat up to temperatures that can start a fire. Be especially careful if using fresh boughs of evergreen as these can dry out and become very flammable.
Many families use the same lights year after year without giving them much thought. However, old lights can put your home at risk for fires, not to mention the potential for electrocution.
It is always best to inspect strands of lights and look for signs of damage, including broken light bulbs, fraying wires, loose sockets, etc. Damaged lights should be disposed of and replaced with new strands to be safe.
3. Extension cords
Most households have to use extension cords to accommodate all the additional electrical decorations used over the holidays. Be sure not to overuse extension cords and never plug an extension cord into another extension cord.
Do not plug more than one extension cord into a single wall plug, even if it has two plugs. Choose power bars with several receptacles instead. Also, always turn off lights when you go to bed or put them on timers.
4. Child and pet-friendly decorations
Remember, small children and pets will be tempted to eat decorations that either look or smell like food. Many scented ornaments use cinnamon and other spices children might be attracted to. Choose decorations that don’t have too many small parts that could pose choking hazards and keep decorations out of reach of little hands and four-legged family members.
5. Don’t decorate alone
If you have decorations that need to be hung high, never try to do it yourself. Always be sure you have someone to help hold the ladder and pass things to you. Never try to retrieve heavy boxes from the garage, basement or attic alone. Otherwise, there won’t be anyone to assist should you have an accident.
6. Home security
Thieves are on the prowl during the holiday season, knowing many people are out socializing, leaving their homes vulnerable to break-ins. Ensure your home is secure, with good lighting outside to keep thieves away.
Ensure all doors and windows are locked and that outdoor decorations don’t provide cover for your front door or windows. Always make sure your garage door shuts entirely before leaving home.
7. Holiday cooking
Holiday meals tend to be busy with guests to entertain. However, it is crucial to make sure someone is always in the kitchen, keeping an eye on anything cooking on the stove. It’s easy for things to boil over or fat to spatter and cause a fire. Kitchen accidents happen quicker than you can say, “Jack Frost.”
The more cautious you are preparing for the holidays, the more likely you will enjoy the season. You’ll also avoid the need to make a call to your home insurance broker. These tips will help keep you, your family and guests safe for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
For more home safety tips for Albertans, call Bow Valley Insurance at 1-800-332-1308 or contact us here.
Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits shown on the policy.