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Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

8 min read

Twinkling lights, fireside hot cocoa, and flickering candles. The holiday season is a magical time of year, but the things that create that magic can also present safety hazards. As you deck the halls, consider these simple holiday safety tips to keep your family protected while you’re spreading holiday cheer.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 5,800 people are rushed to the emergency room annually due to falls from decorating their homes for the holiday. An additional 4,000 are injured from tripping or electrocution due to extension wires. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and let safety fall to the back of your mind. So, we’ve put together a list of simple holiday safety tips to ensure your holiday merriment is not marred with injury or a trip to the ER. Put holiday decorating safety at the top of your To-Do list for the season so you and your family can fully enjoy your time together. By making the minimal effort to follow our holiday home safety tips, you’ll help safeguard yourself and your family from unnecessary accidents.

Interior Holiday Safety Tips

Decorating your home inside and out for the holidays is a fun and festive tradition. You want your family and guests to feel comfortable and join in the holiday spirit. But many classic holiday decorations pose substantial risks of fire or injury. Let’s explore the holiday safety tips to keep your home merry and safe. Before decorating, look over your home to determine and address potential risks. Keep safety tools like a fire extinguisher around the house for easy access and check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.

Home Heating

Of course, you want to make your family and guests cozy and comfortable over the holidays. And, few things compare to sitting around a warm fireplace or wood stove with hot soup on a cold winter night. Likewise, most people enjoy turning up the heat in their homes when temperatures outside drop. Unfortunately, home heating presents many different fire risks. That’s why we start our holiday safety tips with how you heat your home.

In a study released by the National Fire Protection Association, 44,210 home structure fires from 2016 to 2020 involved failed home heating equipment. The annual cost of these home fires was 480 deaths, 1,370 injuries, and a staggering $1 billion in property damage. The most common cause of heating equipment fires was poor maintenance. A dirty chimney flue, clogged furnace filters, a faulty thermostat, or a frayed electrical heater cord can all lead to a house fire. To help avoid a devastating fire in your home, be sure to have all your heating equipment cleaned and inspected before it starts getting cold outside. This isn’t just a Christmas safety tip but an essential home heating practice.

If you heat your home with a fireplace, taking great care with your holiday decorating is vital. Hanging stockings, garlands, or decorative fabrics along the mantle can easily start a fire if they are hung below the bottom of the mantle. A stray spark from the fireplace or melting candles can catch fire in your decorations. Also, dangling decorations may attract pets to jump on the mantle or the stockings, potentially knocking over lit candles. Our holiday safety tips include using only battery-powered candles on the mantle and removing hanging décor whenever you light a fire.

Trees and Greenery

In many homes, a fresh pine tree or pine boughs forming wreaths are the centerpiece of holiday decorations. Beloved for its traditional appeal and woodsy scent, fresh pine greenery is also highly flammable. Our next holiday decorating safety tips focus on safe choices for your Christmas tree and wreaths.

To help prevent the risk of fire from holiday greenery and plants, look for artificial décor that is rated fire-resistant. If your holiday decorations include a real tree, choose one that has bright green needles that flex when bent rather than break. An older, dried-out tree is a greater fire risk. Anchor the tree well so it can’t topple when the cat jumps on high branches or children pull on the ornaments. Be sure to keep live plants and the cut tree watered regularly so they retain moisture. Keep all greenery away from the fireplace or open flames, such as candles.

Always follow holiday home safety tips concerning your Christmas tree. If you choose a live tree, use a stand large enough to support the tree trunk with a water basin to slow the tree drying out. Stand your tree well away from the fireplace or woodburning stove and keep any lit candles well away from the tree. Place the tree where it will not block any exits. Hang fragile ornaments near the top, away from curious pets and youngsters.

Indoor Holiday Lights

Christmas lights are some of the most cherished holiday decorations. Follow our holiday home safety tips and fully examine and test your lights before use. Always inspect the cords and bulbs before hanging lights on your tree and other greenery. Throw out any strands with frayed or worn electric cords or corroded sockets or plugs. Unplug any lighted decorations before going to bed each night or when leaving the house.


Candles offer a soft ambiance for your holiday gatherings and are a great decorating tool. Our Christmas safety tips don’t require you to forgo candlelight, but we urge you to handle it safely.

Practice common fire safety when using candles around your home. A December report from the National Fire Protection Association states that fire departments responded to an average of 7,400 candle-caused home fires per year from 2015 to 2019. Never place candles near greenery or flammable fabrics. Remember to keep an eye on your lit candles, even when you’re at home. Extinguish any open flames before going to bed for the night or leaving the house unattended. Never assume a candle has burned so low that it’s sure to burn itself out.

Safety while Entertaining Guests

Friends and family gather from far and wide for the holidays. Keep them safe with our holiday home safety tips.

When you’re hosting guests for the holidays, there are many things on your mind, and safety may not be a top priority. If your guests have small children, child-proof your home before they arrive. Put candles or lights that may be too hot to touch out of reach. If you have décor with small parts, move it out of reach or remove these choking hazards altogether while young children are present.

The kitchen, too, contains many safety threats while entertaining for the holidays. The entire family often winds up in the kitchen together, sometimes enjoying family baking as part of tradition or budget-friendly holiday activities. Keep everyone safe by making sure your first-aid kit is fully stocked. That way, you’ll be ready for any minor cuts or burns when preparing dinner.

Follow our holiday safety tips, and never leave the kitchen unattended when making your holiday meals. Unattended cooking equipment accounted for 48% of home cooking fires from 2017-2021, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Association. Keep guests safe by paying attention and staying near the kitchen while you cook dinner.

Exterior Home Safety Tips

Decorating the exterior of your home is a common practice, but outdoor holiday décor can pose specific safety risks. Avoid accidents this holiday season by using common sense and following our holiday safety tips when installing and dismantling decorations.

Holiday Lights

Lighting up your home with a festive lighting display helps share your holiday spirit with neighbors and guests alike. Limit your risk of fire from holiday lights by properly inspecting each strand before installing them. Just like interior lights, you should never use a strand with a frayed or worn cord or a broken bulb. Don’t attempt to repair a damaged strand; replace it instead. Additionally, never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together. Never connect multiple extension cords or overload an outlet with several extension cords at once. If a strand of lights appears sound, plug them in for fifteen minutes to be sure they work before hanging them.

Another critical holiday safety tip concerns the lights you choose for decorations. While using outdoor holiday lights inside is fine, it’s critical to use only outdoor-rated lights outside. Lighting rated for outdoor use is designed to withstand wet and cold conditions without shorting out. Indoor-rated cords have no such safety features.

An essential Christmas safety tip is to carefully secure your light strands outdoors. If you’re using nails or hooks to support the light strands, choose insulated nails and hooks to prevent an electric shock or fire hazard. Never use metal staples that can sever the slender copper wires in the cords.

Always turn off your holiday lights, indoors and out, before going to bed.

Using Ladders

Climbing a ladder is usually unavoidable if you’re installing holiday lighting outside your home. Holiday ladder safety is critical. Check your ladder for loose screws, missing bolts, or non-working hinges. Make sure you’re using the right ladder for the job and that it’s rated for the weight you plan to put on it. Even if you’re just out of reach for the spot to hang your next strand of lights, always climb down from the ladder and move it over rather than risk a fall from overreaching. You can enlist the help of a friend or family member when using a ladder to hang decorations. They will be able to help hold the ladder steady and provide assistance.

Keeping Your Home Safe This Holiday Season

The holidays are a great time to enjoy your home with friends and family. Avoid filing a homeowners insurance claim this holiday season by following these holiday safety tips. By using safety best practices and common sense throughout your decorating, home heating, and holiday cooking, you’ll be able to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

If you’re traveling for the holidays, instead of celebrating at home, check out our stress-busting tips for holiday travel.

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