As the winter holiday season is upon us, many Hoosiers are either preparing their homes to host festive celebrations or preparing to travel to celebrate with loved ones. While everyone wants to enjoy the holiday spirit to the fullest this time of year, it is important to take certain precautions to prevent household hazards. Hays + Sons shares top holiday home safety tips to help you spread holiday cheer while protecting your residence.
Holiday Home Safety Tips: Holiday Decorations
- Make sure you have the right kind of holiday lights for the application. For outdoor use, make sure the lights you wish to hang are certified for use outdoors. Don’t hang lights on a metallic artificial tree, as a faulty light could charge the metallic material and create an electrocution risk.
- Inspect all lights and make sure they are in good condition before placing them around the house. Examine the wires, looking for any fraying. Check to see that the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Inspect bulb sockets for cracks and other damage. Check that all bulbs work and replace dead bulbs before decorating. If a strand of lights has any sort of damage, don’t use it – dispose of it properly and purchase new strands that are UL rated.
- Hang or mount holiday lights in a safe manner, using hooks or other products designed to hold these lights. Never attempt to nail, tack, or staple a strand of lights directly to the home as wires can easily be pierced this way.
- When hanging lights outdoors and decorating your property with other festive items, always plug cords into circuits that have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to avoid electric shocks.
- Never leave holiday lights on unattended as a short in the strand could lead to a fire.
- When buying a live tree, look for a fresh one with green needles firmly attached to branches. Remove a few inches from the trunk to improve water absorption and keep the tree watered so it does not dry out and become a fire hazard.
- Install the real or artificial tree in a steady base to avoid tipping and place it in a location away from traffic, fireplaces, radiators, and doorways.
- Tree decorations should be made out of non-combustible, flame-resistant material.
- Do not add real, lighted candles to any holiday tree, artificial or real. When decorating with candles, minimize fire risks by placing them in non-flammable vessels and setting them away from the tree and other flammable items in a location where they won’t be easily knocked down. Keep a clear space of 12 inches on all sides of every candle to avoid accidental fires. Make sure you extinguish all candles before leaving the room or retiring for the evening. Don’t light candles in areas where guests or others will sleep, as they may not know to put them out before heading to bed.
- Avoid decorating with potentially unsafe items or keep these decorations out of reach if you will host children and pets in your home. Poinsettias are poisonous if consumed. Hang decorations at least six inches higher than the tallest child’s reach. Don’t use tinsel, as it can be deadly if eaten by a dog or cat.
Entertaining Tips for the Holidays
- If you plan to use your fireplace this holiday season, have it professionally inspected and cleaned before use.
- Before you light a fire, make sure the flue is open. Gate off the area to prevent children and pets from getting too close.
- Remove any nearby decorations or other items before using your fireplace.
- Enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a safely lit fire as you celebrate. Don’t use the fire to get rid of waste such as wrapping paper.
- Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the second and third leading days for home cooking fires, with only Thanksgiving ahead of the winter holidays. Never leave the kitchen unattended as food cooks.
- If you will be hosting guests who smoke, restrict smoking to the outdoors. Provide deep, sturdy ashtrays to minimize the risk of tipping. Fill ashtrays or receptacles with sand so guests can fully extinguish cigarettes before returning to the party. Check the ashtrays regularly to make sure no cigarette butts remain smoldering, which could cause a fire.
Home Safety Tips for Holiday Travels
- If you will be traveling this holiday season, take steps to make your home look occupied even when it’s not. You can use a timer for light fixtures in the home, which will automatically turn selected fixtures on and off at specific times or intervals. Have the post office hold your mail so it doesn’t pile up. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by your house throughout your trip to keep an eye on your property and give the appearance that the home is being monitored.
- Avoid sharing your holiday travel plans on public social media or with strangers in person. Save posting holiday photos online until you return home, so you don’t send a clear message that your home is empty to anyone who may be watching.
- Make sure to set your security alarm system before leaving for any holiday trip, even if you’ll just be gone for a day trip. The holidays are a time when homes are often filled with expensive gift items, creating desirable targets for theft.
Happy Holidays from Hays + Sons
Hays + Sons wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We hope these holiday home safety tips will help you protect your family and your home while enjoying seasonal celebrations and longstanding holiday traditions.
Even with the most careful planning, not all home disasters can be prevented over the holiday season. Should your home be damaged by a fire caused by holiday items or activities, Hays + Sons offers expert fire restoration services that will return your residence to its former beauty and function. Contact us today to for fire restoration help.