Common Holiday Household Mishaps and How to Avoid Them

by Team HomeServe
Illustration of people decorating a Christmas tree with a kitchen fire

The holidays are an exciting time of the year when people celebrate with friends and family, exchange gifts and spread cheer and positivity. However, the fast pace of holiday preparation can also lead to mishaps like falls from high places, Christmas tree fires and undercooked turkeys.

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Thankfully, many holiday accidents can be easily avoided by following safety measures, double-checking instructions and simply taking the time to slow down. Read on to learn more about common holiday accidents and how to avoid them this season.

What Are the Most Common Home Accidents That Happen Around the Holidays?

Accidents are fairly common during the festive season, with one of the main contributors being a rushed pace to ensure the house is decorated, presents are wrapped and food is prepared in time for the celebration. Here are some of the most common home accidents that occur during the holiday season:

Falls From High Places

Illustration of two people decorating a Christmas tree

Whether it's your job each year to string the holiday lights along the roof edge or up the staircase, or you're in charge of placing the star or angel on the top branch of the Christmas tree, falls are extremely common. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, thousands of people experience falls each year due to holiday decorating from dangerous heights.

Slipping on Ice

Illustration of a person slipping on ice

For those who live in colder regions, snow and ice can lead to serious slip-and-fall accidents and ruin your holiday plans. Melting snow can drip down off roofs and gutters or freeze on the ground, creating slick patches of ice that people are often unaware of until it's too late.

Fires Caused by Lights and Candles

Illustration of a kitchen fire

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says fires caused by Christmas tree lights and holiday candles can lead to significant injuries and property damage costs during the holidays. These fires often occur when homeowners leave burning candles unattended during parties or throughout the evening to enhance the overall holiday ambiance. The combination of damaged holiday lights and dried-out tree needles can lead to sparks that ignite entire trees in a short period of time.

Cooking Accidents

Common cooking accidents that can happen during the holidays include kitchen fires due to leaving cooking food unattended on the stovetop, scalds and burns caused by fryers and food-borne illnesses from consuming undercooked food or food that's been sitting out for too long without proper temperature control.

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How Can You Prevent Holiday-Related Accidents?

While holiday mishaps can sometimes happen through no fault of your own, taking safety precautions while decorating, cooking and even shoveling the front walk can significantly lower the chance of serious accidents occurring. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this holiday season while avoiding unfortunate incidents:

Take Precautions When Working at Height

When hanging holiday lights or placing the top decoration on the tree, designate someone to spot you by holding the ladder to keep it secure. If your roof is significantly high off the ground, consider wearing a safety harness for additional protection. It's also important to wear nonslip shoes to prevent slipping as you climb the ladder and when you're up on the roof.


If your front wall or driveway is prone to ice during the holiday season, you can help prevent slips and falls by applying ice melt or rock salt to ice patches to create traction while melting the ice. There are also non-chemical options, such as plain sand and mats made with non-skid materials, that can be placed on your walkways after snowfalls.

Prevent Fires

While holiday lights are beautiful when left on overnight, it's important to check all light sockets for fire hazards such as frayed wires and broken bulbs. If you'd like to display your holiday lights into the late-night hours, consider using a timer so they shut off automatically.

Only use candles on stable surfaces that are resistant to heat and fire, and make sure to extinguish all flames before turning in for the night. If you’re buying a fake Christmas tree, purchase one that’s fire-retardant. If you’re using a natural tree, check the water level on a daily basis and replenish it when necessary.

Cook Carefully

To keep your kitchen safe during the holidays, never leave food cooking on the stovetop unattended, and be sure to check on anything baking in the oven on a frequent basis. If you're deep-frying a turkey, set the fryer up outside and follow the instructions carefully to prevent oil overflows. To avoid food-borne illnesses, make sure that turkeys and other poultry reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). If you plan to set up food on a buffet table, use warmers to keep appetizers and other dishes warm and place cold items over trays of ice.