The end of the calendar year marks the beginning of the holiday season. Many families choose to decorate their homes, host guests or travel to visit family during this time. A warm, decorated house presents a welcoming and cozy atmosphere for guests and homeowners alike. The holidays, however, may provide an increased risk of accidents occurring in your home.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in November and December 2015 alone over 14,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms were caused by holiday decorating. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and let safety fall to the back of your mind. We’ve put together a list of simple safety tips to remember when you’re enjoying time with family and friends this holiday season. By taking the time to follow our safety tips, you’ll help safeguard yourself and your family from unnecessary accidents.
Interior Home Safety Tips
The interior of your home is a place to gather together and enjoy the holidays. It also poses a large risk for accidents like fires. Look over your home as you plan your decorations, gatherings, and winter heating to determine potential risks. Keep safety tools like a fire extinguisher around the home for easy access and check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
Few things compare to sitting around a warm fireplace or wood stove on a cold winter night. Likewise, most people enjoy turning up the heat in their homes when temperatures outside drop. Unfortunately, home heating can bring many different fire risks. In a study released by the National Fire Protection Association, over 54,000 home structure fires from 2011-2015 involved failed home heating equipment. The most common cause of fires was a lack of maintenance. To help avoid a devastating fire in your home, be sure to have furnaces, chimneys, and other heating equipment cleaned and inspected before it starts getting cold outside.
If you heat your home with a fireplace, it is especially important to take care around the holidays. Hanging stockings, garland or decorative fabrics over the mantle can easily start a fire if they are hung haphazardly. Remember to always take down decorations that hang over the mantle if a fire is lit or coals are still burning. If you have a gas fireplace, never use it if the glass front is broken, loose or removed. Replacing the glass of a gas fireplace should only be done by a professional.
Trees and Greenery
Many holiday decorations involve greenery such as trees 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, be sure to choose one that has bright green needles that do not break easily. Be sure to keep live plants watered regularly so they retain moisture. Keep all greenery away from fireplaces or open flames such as candles.
If you’re using string lighting as a decoration on trees and other greenery, always inspect the cords and bulbs before putting them up. Throw out any strands with frayed or worn edges. 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. Practice common fire safety when using candles around your home. A December 2017 report from the National Fire Protection Association states that fire departments responded to an average of 8,690 candle fires per year from 2011-2015. Never place candles near greenery or flammable fabrics. Remember to keep an eye on your candles, even when you’re at home. Extinguish any open flames before going to bed for the night or leaving the house unattended.
Safety while Entertaining Guests
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, be sure to 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, be sure to move it out of reach or remove these choking hazards altogether while young children are present.
The kitchen poses many safety threats while entertaining for the holidays. Keep everyone safe by buying a first aid kit or putting together your own. That way, you’ll be ready for any minor cuts or burns that happen when preparing dinner. Additionally, never leave the kitchen unattended when making your holiday meals. Unattended cooking equipment accounted for 32% of home cooking fires from 2012-2016, 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 when installing and dismantling decorations.
Lighting up your home with a festive lighting display helps show your holiday spirit to 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 that has a frayed or worn cord. Make sure you purchase lights and extension cords that are rated for outdoor use. Additionally, never connect multiple extension cords together or overload an outlet with several extension cords at once.
Climbing a ladder is usually unavoidable if you’re installing holiday lighting on the outside of your home. 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 is rated for the amount of weight you plan to put on it. Even if you’re just out of reach for the spot to hang you next strand of lights, always climb down from the ladder and move it over rather than risking 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 as well as provide assistance should an accident occur.
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 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.
Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.