Overused electrical outlets, traveling, extra guests, items being moved in and out of storage… The holidays can be stressful on your home, too! Did you know that nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage?
Here are our quick tips for making sure your home stays safe through the holiday season.
Choosing A Safe Christmas Tree Or Other Greenery
- Select greenery that is as green and fresh as possible. The needles shouldn’t break and should not fall off easily.
- Cut a fresh inch or two off the bottom of the trunk before putting it in the treestand to allow water to soak into the tree more easily.
- Be sure to keep your tree stand filled with fresh water to prevent the tree from drying out.
- Do not place your tree or other greenery (or any decorations) close to fireplaces, radiators, or space heaters.
- If you’re choosing an artificial tree, be sure to select one that is marked as “fire resistant.” And, if it comes pre-lit, then check the box for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal of approval to make sure the proper wiring was used.
Holiday lights can present a fire hazard, in addition to a tripping hazard, choking hazard, and the risk of electric shock. Keep these tips in mind when you’re putting up your holiday decorations:
- Select only lights that have been tested by a reputable testing lab (such as Underwriters Laboratory) to be sure they conform to safety standards.
- If they have been improperly used in the past or are damaged, forgo the risk and buy new ones for your home.
- Check each strand thoroughly for broken bulbs, cracked sockets, or frayed wires. If damage is apparent, discard the lights.
- If you need to replace any bulbs on the strands, be sure to unplug the strand before messing with the bulbs.
- If you need to use extension cords, make sure they are not overloaded. Cords and light wires should not be warm to the touch.
- Keep pets and small children away from cords and lights.
- Make sure that lighting used outside is recommended for outdoor use.
- Turn off all the lights before leaving home or going to bed. If a timer is being used, make sure it is set correctly and working properly. If it’s not, discontinue use.
- Do not hang lights in the vicinity of power lines.
- Do not use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
- Keep candles away from flammable decorations.
- Don’t leave lit candles unattended.
- Don’t leave lit fireplaces unattended.
- Remove stockings and other combustible decorations, such as garlands, before starting a fire in the fireplace.
- Do not use wrapping paper or pine boughs in the fireplace. Their floating embers can escape your chimney and could ignite your own or a neighbor’s roof.
- Make sure your fire extinguishers aren’t expired and are ready for action, if need be.
Miscellaneous Home Safety Tips For The Holiday Season
- Make sure all of your smoke detectors, radon detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and are working correctly. According to the American Red Cross, having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
- If you need to use a stepladder, make sure all four legs are firmly on the ground, and don’t stand on the top step or on top of the stepladder.
- Cook with care. Kitchen equipment is the leading cause of home fires year-round, not just at the holidays.
- Have a plan. Make sure your family (and any guests staying with you) know what the escape plan in case of fire, or any other scenario that you may need a plan for.
- Make sure you’ve done a winter inspection on your home to examine your fireplace, your insulation, and other areas of your home.