The holiday season is in full swing! While this time should be enjoyable, and an opportunity to reconnect with family, the traditional activities of this month bring with it some home safety issues. We’ve compiled a few risks to keep aware of, as well as the tips to minimize those risks from turning into a major catastrophe.
First a few facts: Between the years of 2009-2013 fire departments in the United States were called to 210 home fires each year because of Christmas trees, additionally they dealt with about 860 fires each year due to decorations. Electricity and lighting equipment issues were involved in 35% of the Christmas tree fires. In 2014, the top 3 dates for home fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas day and Christmas Eve, candle fires were most to blame on Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.
But there is quite a bit of simple prevention measures you can use to stave off a holiday-influenced fire:
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking, and keep an eye on the food. If it’s a food item that takes longer to cook, such as a roast, check on it frequently, and utilize a timer to remind you and keep you on task. Sometimes hosts get caught up in talking with their guests or enjoying the ambiance of the party, and time slips by. Wait until after you are finished cooking to enjoy that glass of wine!
- Keep flammable items away from the stove, including oven mitts, packaging and towels.
- Keep kids away from the stove while cooking.
- If you have a real Christmas tree, water it daily, and periodically check to make sure it is not dry. When you feel the needles, they should be flexible, not dry or brittle.
- Keep Christmas trees at least three feet from heat sources including candles, fireplaces, heat vents and radiators.
- When decorating with lights make sure they and any extension cords you use are UL-listed and undamaged.
- On exteriors, use only lights made specifically for outdoor use.
- Don’t connect more than three cord strands together, and don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Turn off lights before going to bed, and before leaving the house.
- Check cords and lights periodically to make sure they are still undamaged and don’t feel hot to the touch.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand, and make sure the batteries are fresh in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
And if you’re just too busy to read about safety, this video from the National Fire Protection Association sums up holiday decorating fire prevention pretty well:
Minimizing Other Safety Risks
Sidewalks and driveways can become covered with ice and snow during the holiday season, causing a risk to not only you, but also your guests.
- Apply salt to your sidewalk and driveway right before it snows to keep it from icing over.
- Wear warm, insulated clothing when you shovel to minimize frost bite risks.
- Lift with your legs and not with our back when you shovel. You won’t enjoy the holiday season nearly as much if you are suffering from a back injury.
If you are hosting guests, plan for any special safety needs they may have.
- Child-proof your home with door knob covers, cabinet latches, oven locks and plug protectors, if you are planning a visit from young family members.
- Both children and older adults benefit from the addition of a grab bar to make it easier for them to get in and out of the bathtub. Also to prevent falls on wet surfaces, place a bath mat on the bathroom floor and a non-slip mat in the shower.