Home safety tips for the holidays

Updated December 21, 2023  |   Published December 12, 2023

The holidays can be a joyful time. From gifts, to spending time with family, to everything in between, there is so much to celebrate and be thankful for. However, holiday plans can easily get de-railed with risk of fires, water leakage, and more. We’ve gathered some helpful tips below to help ensure home safety this winter for you and your family, so that you can celebrate the holidays with peace-of-mind.


Decorating the House

Decorations like trees and lights increase the risk of home fires during the holidays. Follow these tips to decrease your risk:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together – no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat.
  3. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and get water to keep it fresh. A dry tree will catch fire quicker and easier. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.


Holiday Home Cooking Tips

Fires are one of the largest kitchen-related accidents that can occur, with the number of kitchen-related house fires totaling more than 170,000 per year. Not far behind that is food poisoning and food allergies. Here are some tips to prevent both kitchen-related fires, and food-related sickness:

  1. Never leave cooking food unattended. The most common cause of cooking fires is leaving the stove (or fryer) unattended.
  2. Read food labels. Warning your guests can prevent dangerous allergic reactions. Your guests having an allergic reaction can be a liability to you.
  3. Invest in a meat thermometer. Undercooked meat can cause food poisoning. If you’re cooking meat this holiday season – especially if it’s a large animal like a turkey – use a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.


Holiday Candle Risks & Safety Tips

Ever year, candles cause over 23,000 home fires. Follow these tips to ensure home safety with candles:

  1. Use sturdy holders for lit candles. Holders that are too light or improperly weighted increase the chances of a lit candle toppling and igniting fuel nearby.
  2. Keep lit candles on sturdy, clear surfaces. No wobbly tables. No tables with piles of paper. A clear, steady area ensures that the candle stands upright.
  3. Blow candles out before they burn all the way down. This is especially important for candles in glass jars, which can explode if they get too hot (which can happen if a flame gets too low).
  4. Don’t leave candles alone. As with cooking, don’t leave a burning candle unattended. And note that kids don’t count, never leave kids in a room alone with a burning candle.
  5. Don’t burn candles in rooms where people fall asleep. Sadly, 11% of candle fires sparked because someone fell asleep while the flame was burning.
  6. Leave a clear 12 inches on every side of the flame. With plenty of clearance, it’s less likely that flammable material will blow into the flame or that the flame will catch something nearby on fire.
  7. Consider fake candles. Flameless candle technology has come a long way in recent years. Many fake candles offer the same cozy, flickering light as the real thing – with none of the risk.


Winter Weather Risks & Safety Tips

Some parts of the holiday season affect you whether you plan to celebrate or not. Winter weather can affect home safety through both physical injury and property damage. You can keep your visitors safe by following these winter weather tips:

  1. Prepare for bad weather. If you get snow and ice, stock up on salt and shovels ASAP. You’ll want to be prepared to keep your walkways clean before the first storm hits. Keeping the areas around your house walkable helps prevent slip-and-fall injuries.
  2. Check your home’s seals. When temperatures drop, even a little water in a crack can cause problems; as it freezes, it expands, which means more room for water to get inside and do damage.
  3. Protect your pipes. Freezing temperatures can also damage your pipes. Luckily, there are several ways to keep pipes from freezing, including insulation and heating tape.
  4. Clean your chimney. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure to clean your chimney at least once per year. The buildup of substances like creosote contributes to 25% of heating-related fires.
  5. Follow other fire safety protocols. Keep your home fireplace or wood stove safe by clearing the area around it and be sure to soak in the hot ashes in water and store them in a metal container after you clean. Also, don’t burn cardboard or trash in your fireplace or wood stove.
  6. Keep flammable objects away from heat sources. As with candles, keeping things at least three feet away from heat sources can prevent fires.

If you’ve had an unfortunate accident in your home this winter season, we are here to help you. Click here to file a claim.

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