Protect Your Home from These Holiday Hazards
The holiday season is officially upon us, and unfortunately, many of our seasonal traditions present a special set of risks for homeowners each year. As you gear up for the festivities, pay special attention to these following hazards to keep your holidays happy and not plagued by an avoidable accident.
1. Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are a staple holiday decoration in many households, but they are also highly combustible and are the culprits behind hundreds of holiday housefires each year.
If you choose a real tree, make sure it is fresh and water it daily to prevent it from drying out. Dispose of your real tree as soon as you take it down, as it will dry out quickly and become more flammable. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Whether real or artificial, you should keep your tree at least three feet from heat sources, including space heaters, fireplaces, candles, or radiators. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), 1 in 4 tree fires are caused by a heat source too close to the tree.
You can also decorate your tree with a smoke detector disguised as an ornament, which allows you to detect Christmas tree fires right at the source!
The holiday season is a time to keep our homes “merry and bright,” so it’s no surprise candle fires peak in December (NFPA).
Keep candles out of reach from children and/or pets and place them far away from any flammable decorations, curtains, or wrapped presents. Flameless candles are also a great option to bypass the hazard of an open flame.
3. Decorative Lights
The NFPA also reports that nearly half of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical distribution or lighting equipment. When decorating your Christmas tree or home, use lights according to their label—indoor and outdoor lights are not interchangeable.
As a general rule, connect no more than three strings of lights to one outlet. If you’re unsure of the maximum watt capacity of your outlets, a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker will provide added protection against a circuit overload.
When decorating outside, keep any extension cords dry and protected from the elements. You may face electrical hazards if winter winds catch outdoor string lights, so be sure they are securely fastened to firm objects.
While it’s tempting to let your home twinkle all night long, it’s also important to turn off all outdoor and indoor lights before bed or before leaving the house.
4. Holiday Cooking
We all look forward to homecooked holiday dishes and goodies. But according to the NFPA, cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and injuries, and these accidents peak on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The key to avoiding this statistic is staying present and attentive in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. Set timers while you are baking or roasting food and stay in the house while you do so.
Keep flammable objects such as oven mitts, food packaging, towels, or wooden utensils away from your stove or other heat-generating appliances and clean your stovetop and counters regularly to clear any grease or debris.
5. Ladder Falls
Many of us will be reaching for our ladders this season to string up lights and other decorations, and this is one holiday activity that requires extra precaution.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Administration (CPSA), there are nearly 200 decorating-related injuries every day during the holiday season, and roughly half of those accidents involve falls.
If you use a ladder to “deck the halls,” pick the right ladder for the job—use extension ladders that extend 3 feet above the roofline when working outside. Always check that you are well under the maximum weight load and inspect your ladder regularly for damage.
When working outside, move the base of your ladder 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet of height you have to climb to maximize stability.
Be sure that you also place your ladder on a level and stable surface, and while climbing, always maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!