The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means there is probably a lot of decorating and cooking in your future. With all the hustle and bustle this magical season brings, home safety can be easily overlooked. To save you time, we’ve compiled a list of our best and most popular holiday home safety tips. Please take a few moments to ensure you’re minimizing risk and keeping your home and family safe this holiday season.
INDOOR HOLIDAY LIGHTS
String lights account for more than 45% of home Christmas tree fires during the holiday season. Follow these tips to prevent fires:
- Regardless of whether your tree is real or artificial, turn off string lights before going to bed and leaving your home. It’s even better if you unplug them.
- Check each strand of lights for fraying, exposed wires or missing bulbs. Avoid using a strand with a missing bulb and replace the missing bulb.
- Check your indoor extension cords for fraying and be sure the cord is not a trip hazard
- For safety, string no more than three incandescent light stands together at a time. If your lights are LED, you can safely string up to ten strands together at a time.
- Look for the UL or ETL symbol on lighting decorations and extension cords – they are nationally recognized for safety and ensure the lights you are purchasing have been tested and approved before being sold. Watch out for lights on Amazon that don’t carry these symbols.
- Some pets love chewing wires. If you see your pet spending time near the Christmas lights, check the lights for bite marks or exposed wires. You can purchase pet-proof cord protectors to create a barrier between your pet’s teeth and the wire. You can also put the tree skirt over your cords.
Our recommendation: Switch to LED lights (they will save you money on your holiday power bill) and purchase a timer for your holiday lights so you can set it and forget it.
OUTDOOR HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Outdoor holiday lights are a big part of what makes the holidays magical. And with nearly 86% of Americans decorating their homes with lights each holiday season, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your home is safe from a lighting fire hazard. Be sure your home is safe by following a few simple safety tips:
- Use only outdoor lighting outside – look for the green UL or ETL mark on the tag that indicates it is safe to use outdoors. Outdoor lighting is made to withstand water and prevent fire hazards.
- Be sure your extension cords are listed for outdoor use – all extension cords are not created equal.
- Check the wattage rating on your extension cord to avoid overloading it. If you overload an extension cord beyond its rating, overheating and fire may occur.
- Switch to LED lights to reduce fire risk when stringing lights together. You can safely plug ten strands of LED lights into each other.
- Plug lights into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet – these outlets are specifically designed for outdoors and prevent electrical shock.
- If you don’t have one, a licensed electrician can install one.
- Avoid leaving lights on during the day – a timer can be a big help that reduces fire risk and saves you money on your power bill.
- Don’t hang lights with staples or nails, as they can pierce the light strands. Instead, hang with plastic holders designed just for string lights.
Our recommendation: Spend a little extra on the heavy-duty extension cord, switch to LED and find a timer for your holiday lights.
COMPLETE ANNUAL INSPECTIONS AND HOME MAINTENANCE
Holidays or not, you can never be too prepared to prevent a home fire. And during the holidays, fire safety is usually at the bottom of the list, but it might be the most important.
- Check your home’s smoke detectors: test your smoke alarms and replace any missing or dead batteries.
- Check your fire extinguisher gauge to make sure it is green – fire extinguishers should be serviced annually to ensure they work properly when an emergency occurs.
- Get an annual fireplace inspection and cleaning – Santa will appreciate this too! The buildup of creosote contributes to 25% of heating-related fires. This can be removed with regular cleaning.
- Check your home’s seals and weather stripping – this will help save you money on your electric bill when temperatures drop.
Our recommendation: Get those annual inspections just before the holidays. You should be servicing your smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, and chimney each year.
As beautiful as candles can be during the holidays, they do pose a fire risk. And December is the peak month for candle fires. Never fall asleep with candles burning. Be sure all candles are on a sturdy base with at least 12 inches of space around them to avoid the possibility of something catching on fire. Avoid putting candles near a Christmas tree.
Use a space heater safely – space heaters use a lot of electricity and can easily overload circuits, causing a power failure or fire. Children and pets are also at risk of getting burned if they accidentally brush up against the hot surface. Never leave a space heater in an unattended room. Purchase a space heater that has an automatic timer built in.
If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it well-watered. A dry Christmas tree poses an increased risk that it could become highly flammable if a fire starts nearby.
Our recommendation: Switch to flameless candles. There are many more options nowadays that look like a real flame and are battery-operated. Purchase a new space heater with a timer for auto-shutoff.
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
From cooking in the kitchen to enjoying the holidays with little ones running around, this is a special time of year that bring memories for a lifetime. Below are a few general safety tips that can help keep your holidays magical:
- Buy shatterproof ornaments. If you have small children or pets, this is one of our best tips! If you don’t like the look of plastic ornaments or just don’t feel like buying an entire tree’s worth of plastic ornaments, add shatterproof ornaments to the bottom third of the tree and mix them in with the rest on top.
- Be safe in the kitchen. Over 50% of all home fires start in the kitchen, so be sure never to leave food unattended and always have your fire extinguisher in an accessible place.
- Don’t overload your electrical receptacles.
- If you’re traveling, leave a few lights on inside your home while you’re gone. This will make your home appear as though someone is home.
Thanks for taking a few minutes to read through our top home safety tips for the holiday season to help keep you and your family safe. We hope that you have a safe and wonderful season with memories that last a lifetime. If you’re in the market for home insurance, flood insurance, travel insurance, auto insurance, or business insurance, give our friendly team at Classic Insurance a call at 850-332-5717, and we will help get you the coverage you need at the price that best fits your budget. Wishing you a happy holiday from all of us at Classic Insurance!