There's nothing like the holidays to bring family and friends together. But the holidays also bring opportunities for incidents to occur around the home. Here are (come on, sing along...) 12 things at Christmas to celebrate safelyyyyy... well, we tried.
1. Christmas Trees
Nothing could be more dangerous than dried twigs and branches in your living room. Unless it's dried twigs and branches with lots of paper around it, within "striking distance" of a warm crackling fire and hot light bulbs. Remember to check the water level of your tree daily and keep it in a container that can hold an adequate water supply. To test if your tree is sufficiently hydrated, give a branch a gentle tug. If needles easily break, it's time to water. Be sure to keep your tree, decorations and wrapping papers away from any flames.
12% of all home candle fires occur in December, the National Fire Protection Association reports. Increased use of candles and fireplaces burning in close proximity to combustible decorations means more risk for fire. Here are some ways to avoid candle fires:
- Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
- Keep candles out of reach of children
- Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
- Don't burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
Even if the weather outside IS lovely, a fire in the fireplace can set the tone for a nice Christmas evening. But remember to check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year. And no matter how convenient, don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
4. Turkey Fryers
Yes, even after the Thanksgiving dinner, many STILL want to use those turkey fryers at Christmas. A couple of tips to keep things safe:
- Set up the fryer more than 10 feet from the house and keep children away
- Find flat ground; the oil must be even and steady to ensure safety
- Use a thawed and dry turkey; any water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over (see video at right)
- Fryer lid and handle can become very hot and cause burns
- Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times
5. Holiday Cooking
The holidays are THE BEST time of year for baking and cooking. Remember to keep all papers and wraps away from open flames and keep a fire extinguisher handy for any kitchen mishaps. Also keep food safety in mind.
- Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate raw meats from other foods.
- Cook foods to the right temperature.
- Refrigerate food promptly.
- Don't use holiday lights unless they have cleared the strict safety tests conducted by Underwriters Lab or another established testing facility. Lights checked by the independent testing company are marked with a holographic UL label. A red label means lights can be used indoors and out, while green means indoor-use only.
- You want your lights to shine, not sparks to fly! Your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. You can also opt to buy a portable outdoor unit from your local home store for less than $20.
- Read labels for lights and other wired decorations to make sure you're conforming to acceptable wattage levels. If your decorations are connected by a tangled web of extension cords and power strips, you may be overloading the circuits.
- Check all electric lights and decorations to see if they're damaged or worn. Cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires and loose connections may pose a fire or shock hazard.
7. Christmas Vacation
If you're headed out of town for the holidays, it's a perfect time for thieves to do their worst. Arrange with your local police department to periodically cruise by your house when you’re out of town.
8. Neighborhood Safety
Alert your neighborhood watch group. Inform them of your vacation plans so they can be alert to suspicious activity about your house. If there’s no formal watch group, ask a friend or neighbor to check up on your residence. This includes having them remove any packages on your doorstep or accumulated newspapers.
9. Protect your valuables
Keep valuable items out of sight from peepers outside the house. Don’t keep spare keys in places obvious to burglars such as under a flower pot or fake rock. Remove valuable items from sight in your car, if parked in the driveway, and put a lock on the steering wheel.
10. Mail protection
Stop mail and newspaper delivery. Arrange with the post office and newspaper service to have your mail and newspaper on vacation hold.
11. Protect Your Guests
Remember, when guests are staying in your home, make sure areas have night lights or easy-to-reach lamps in case they need to get up during the night.
Whether you are visiting someone else's home or you have guests in your home, make sure all medications are kept up and away and out of sight from young children.
Stability When You Need It
You can rely on Anchor Insurance for stability when you need a little (or a lot) of help. Our swift claims response and warm customer care will provide you reassurance in unsteady times. Rest easy knowing you and your home are protected by a solid insurance company that can stand the test of time.