Holiday home safety

JANUARY 24, 2018

Here is a great list of tips to keep your house safe over the holidays.

The winter holidays can be a joyous time filled with home decorating, festive cheer and spending quality time with family and friends. Although this is a time for fun and celebration, it is important to be aware of the increased risks and hazards during the holidays. Here are some helpful tips on how you can stay safe this season.

1. Be cautious with holiday lights

Although electrical safety is a year-round concern, the use of decorative lights during the holiday season increases the risk of fire and electrical injuries.  Before draping holiday lights outside or inside your home, inspect lights and cords for fraying or cracks and be sure to replace any damaged cords and bulbs. Avoid running cords through walls, floors and ceilings where they can be pinched, and do not leave cords under carpets or in heavy traffic areas of your home. When you plug in decorations and lights, do not overcrowd electrical outlets and extension cords which can overheat and cause a fire. It is important to shut off all lights and unplug decorations before leaving the house or going to sleep.

2. Don't post your travel plans on social media

Keep your travel plans off of social networks. Posting the location and length of your trip on sites such as Twitter and Facebook might seem like an exciting way to share your plans, but it can be risky. This type of information could alert criminals to when your house will be empty. Even if there are privacy safeguards on your accounts, personal information is still accessible and you do not know who in your network is sharing this.

3. Cook safely in the kitchen

When family and friends get together for the holidays, food is typically the most important ingredient. Holiday cooking can be a recipe for disaster if you do not exercise a great deal of safety when preparing food for a house full of guests.  Do not leave food that is grilling or frying unattended, and if you are leaving something in the oven for an extended period of time, use a timer to ensure your food does not overcook. It is helpful to organize your menu and prepare dishes ahead of time to avoid any clutter or accidents on the day of.

4. Be careful of door-to-door solicitors

Holiday cheer can make you feel generous and more willing to open your doors to friendly strangers, but be careful-this feeling can also leave you more vulnerable. These individuals may disguise themselves as charitable agents, so it is important to take the necessary precautions before giving blindly. Ask to see I.D. to verify their affiliation to the charity. If they cannot produce this, it could be a scam. Also, tell them you will donate online which gives you time to verify that the charity is legitimate. If you are at all concerned for your safety, call 911 immediately.  

5. Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning

If you are entertaining during the holidays, make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed on each level of your home and frequently check the batteries to test that they are working. A busy home can be distracting, and with the increase of fire hazards during the holidays, it is important to be prepared in case of a fire. Make sure your home is equipped with a working fire extinguisher and ensure that guests are familiar with your fire escape plan procedures.  If your carbon monoxide or smoke detector starts going off, have everyone leave the house and call 911 immediately.