6 Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
I was caught up in the holiday rush of buying decorations and gifts when my friend mentioned her safety concerns for the holiday season. I have to admit, I’m usually on top of keeping my home safe, but some of what she was mentioning really caught me by surprise. I had no idea that the extension cord I was about to buy at Target for my Christmas lights wasn't meant for outdoor use.
As we talked, we both realized how many questions we had as homeowners. We always want to make decisions that prioritize safety, and these tips are a great start for keeping you and your loved ones safe during this festive time.
1. Keep your tree hydrated
The Christmas tree is the focal point in our home during the holiday season. But, you can’t simply decorate it and forget about it. Christmas tree fires occur every year with some devastating consequences.
The National Safety Commission urges families who use live trees to give it a fresh cut (many places you purchase your tree from can do this for you) and immediately place it in warm water for better absorption. Continue to water it every day and check that it’s been drinking.
If you opt for an artificial tree, check to see if it's labeled as “fire resistant.” No matter what, keep your tree - and any decorations - at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
2. Check in with the CPSC
As a parent, one of my biggest fears is gifting my kids a dangerous toy. Luckily, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is an amazing resource that keeps a running, up-to-date list of recalls and general tips regarding safety and toys for children.
I always consult them before doing my holiday shopping and after my kids receive gifts from relatives. The good news is that over the past decade the number of toy recalls has drastically decreased year after year.
3. Unplug before you go
It may come as no surprise that home decoration fires peak during the holiday season. From extensive cooking, cozy candles and bright lights, there are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. Between 2012 and 2016, the National Fire Protection Association estimated and average of 800 home fires per year that were caused by decorations (excluding Christmas trees).
As charming as my vintage animatronic Santa Claus is, there’s no way I would leave him plugged in for a long period of time. Before leaving the house or heading up to bed, make sure to unplug all lights and decorations. And obviously blow out any candles.
4. Don’t overextend your extension cords
The holiday season is also a good time to brush up on your extension cord knowledge. The Electrical Safety Foundation International found roughly 3,300 home fires originate from extension cords each year. They cannot stress enough how you should never, ever, overload extension cords.
Also, as convenient as it may seem, don’t plug extension cords into one another. Make sure your cords are rated for their intended use and only by cords that have been approved by an independent testing lab. Before you use a cord, check for any cracked sockets or loose connections to avoid potential danger.
5. Decorate with family in mind
Trust me, I completely understand the urge to transform your home into a winter wonderland the moment Thanksgiving is over and December begins. But over the years, I’ve tried to decorate my with family and guests in mind to keep everyone safe.
With little kids running around, the Mayo Clinic recommends keeping decorations (especially small and/or fragile ones) out of reach of children and secured to the wall. I display our special glass ornaments in a secured kitchen hutch and let the kids decorate with plush toys and other fun accents around the house.
6. Protect your appliances
This time of year, your essential appliances and home systems are probably working in overdrive. (Especially if you are hosting for the holidays.) A major component of holiday safety comes down to maintaining your appliances to avoid a costly and time consuming breakdown.
Stay safe this holiday season and be prepared for any home repairs that may arise. See how a variety of plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.