By Alena Kairys

Dec 10, 2020

The holidays are finally here! For many people, this is a frenzied time to get everything done, and it can be easy to overlook safety in the name of festivity. Here are some home holiday safety tips to remember when you celebrate this season.

Indoors

Tree

Many people love the look and scent of a real tree during the holidays, but it could pose some safety issues if not cared for properly. While a rare occurrence, you want to avoid a potential fire. Monitor your tree and make sure it is always well-watered—dry trees are more likely to catch fire and will burn faster than a hydrated one. Artificial trees can give you a similar look to a real tree without the hassle of watering, though they have their own considerations. If you prefer an artificial tree, look for models that are marked “fire resistant.” Some faux trees may come pre-lit, where the lighting is integrated into the tree itself. Inspect the wiring to ensure it is in good condition before plugging it in, especially if you have had your tree for a few years. No matter what kind of tree you have, place your tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, heating vents, or radiators.  

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Lights

Who doesn’t love an excuse to put up twinkling lights? Before you plug a light strand into every available socket, check the wiring to make sure it isn’t damaged and plug them in before arranging them. Put your lights on a timer so you can manage when they turn on and off. This will prolong the life of your lights and prevent them from overheating. Before going to crazy with decorating, a good rule of thumb is to limit three light sets to an extension cord. However, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics. Additionally, never use indoor lights outside or vice versa.

Chimney

If your home has a chimney, gathering around a blazing fireplace during the holidays can make everything more special. Treating it with care and using it correctly will keep your home and family safe. After you’ve unwrapped gifts, you’ll likely have piles of wrapping paper to discard. It might be more convenient to just toss them into your fireplace, but this can cause an uncontrollable fire and release toxins into your home. Simply recycle your gift wrappings after they have served their purpose. Similarly, never burn your old tree or evergreen decorations in your fireplace. The resins in the wood are extremely flammable and could cause an unintended fire if burned in a fireplace or wood stove. Instead, put your tree to the curb for yard waste pickup or see if there is a tree recycling program in your area.                                                                                 

Candles

Lighting a few candles gives off a special aura, especially during the holidays. Always place your candles away from flammable things, especially trees or curtains. Whether you plan to use candles for a religious ceremony or just for the atmosphere, be sure to not to leave them unattended. It only takes a moment for an accident to happen. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case a candle gets knocked over. When possible, consider using battery-operated candles instead of real ones to reduce your risk of fire.

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Outdoors

Lights and Decorations

Holiday decorations are a fun way to brighten up your block or add curb appeal to your home! Before you break out the ladder, inspect your lights for exposed or frayed wiring and loose bulb connections. Throw out and replace any sets that are damaged. Then, plug them in to make sure they work before setting up. If you’re planning on putting lights on your roof, have another person spot you while you’re on the ladder. Opt to use plastic hooks or clips to affix your lights instead of staples or nails. It will make installation and removal much easier and won’t damage your lights or roof. Additionally, avoid decorating in bad weather, as inclement conditions can reduce visibility and stability.

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Just like the lights inside your home, you should have a timer for your outdoor decorations, too. Timers are the perfect solution to ensure the lights turn on at an optimal time and don’t stay on too long. Make sure they go off before you go to bed.

It’s important to plug your lights into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) rather than a standard outlet. A GFCI outlet turns off the electricity if it senses abnormal energy currents, preventing fires or deadly electrocutions. Since the lights you put up outside use much more energy than those inside, it’s more crucial to have this protection.

Driveway

If you live in an area that gets snow, it can be either a pleasure or a pain. Prior to snowfall, it’s a good idea to put a pre-application of de-icer on your driveway and/or walkways. This will help prevent the snow from hardening and ice formation. When the snowfall is over, remove the snow when it’s still fresh as it will be easiest at this time. It’s certainly not the most fun thing to do but being proactive will reduce the amount of work you need to do to maintain a clear pathway. After you’ve removed the snow, sprinkle more de-icer to get rid of slippery spots. You can also shake some kitty litter or sand on the area to add traction.

Holiday mishaps may be funny in the movies, but they aren’t very entertaining when they happen in real life. When you keep safety at the forefront of your celebrations, you can be sure your holidays will be more joyful and memorable.

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