It’s the most wonderful time of the year—but it can also be the most hazardous for you and your home. Protect your family and property by following a few simple tips:
Eliminate Fire Hazards
According to a study done by the National Fire Protection Association, the number of fires caused by candles spikes in December. Always remember to extinguish a candle before leaving the house or falling asleep—and keep trees and other decorations a safe distance from them. Of course that would include not using candles to decorate your tree.
Christmas trees, real or artificial, should be kept at least three feet from fireplaces, heating vents and lights. The lights on your tree can get very warm if you still have the standard incandescent lights. LED lights stay cooler, so you may want to consider making the switch. A real tree also needs some extra TLC—be sure to water it every day so that it won’t dry out and become a fire hazard.
Fireplaces can really make your home warm and welcoming for guests, so get them ready for the season. They should be cleaned every year, preferably before you build your first fire. Keep the flue open while burning, and dispose of ashes in a metal container once they’ve cooled down.
Many holiday gatherings seem to end up in the kitchen, another main area for fires year-round, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are peak days for kitchen fires. It’s easy to understand why—with all the distractions and activity, safety can fall by the wayside. Never leave anything unattended on the stove while cooking, and keep potholders, oven mitts and other flammable objects away from the heating elements of your stove and oven.
If You’re Going Away
Your home may be “home alone”, but potential thieves need not know the difference if you plan ahead.
Avoid sharing your travel plans on social media. Criminals have been known to lurk on social media websites to look for potential victims, and the last thing you want is to tip them off to when you’ll be gone and for how long. Wait until you return to post pictures of your time away, but if you just can’t wait to share, communicate with close friends and family by phone or text messages.
You can make it look like you’re home by setting lights, radios and TVs on timers. Be sure to vary the times when they turn on and off so as to avoid a predictable pattern. It’s also a good idea to have a neighbor or friend pick up newspapers and mail so that they won’t be piling up, or you can have delivery temporarily stopped. If you live in a snowy climate, maintain that lived-in look by having someone clear the snow from your driveway while you’re away.
At-home entertaining may be your favorite holiday activity. Keep your guests happy—but safe—by having a wide array of beverages, including water and other non-alcoholic drinks. Providing plenty of good things to eat will also keep the holiday cheer from getting out of hand, as will putting away the alcohol as the party starts to wind down. For those who may have over-indulged, be sure there’s at least one or two designated drivers. If necessary, offer them your spare room or a sofa.
While enjoying the season’s festivities, an ounce of
prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.