With the holidays just around the corner, homeowners are busy buying those last minute gifts, decorating the house and preparing the home for family and friends. Schedules tend to get more hectic as we get closer to the New Year, but nonetheless, homeowners need to always have home safety at the top of their minds. Whether it is hanging Christmas lights, setting up the tree, cooking a big holiday dinner or leaving for vacation, there are imperative safety precautions we must all take during the holidays.
To ensure our fans keep their homes as safe as possible during the holiday season, we have come up with seven home safety tips all homeowners need to consider. In addition, if you have any home safety tips, please let us know in the comments section below.
1. Turn Christmas Lights Off at Night
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I know they look so much better at night and that is the real reason you bought Christmas lights. However, it is not only expensive to leave your Christmas lights on at night, but it is also dangerous for you and your entire family. In addition, you need to turn off the lights you put on your tree as well. The lights can short at any time and start a fire. While sleeping comfortably upstairs, there is no telling how much the fire could spread before you leave the home. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the deadliest month for electrical fires, so you better believe us when we say it is always better to be safe than sorry.
On a lighter note, we wanted to show you what some of the most creative homeowners have done with their Christmas lights, paying tribute to Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation.
2. Buy a Fresh Tree
It is always prettier and safer to buy a fresh tree. Before you purchase your premier Christmas decoration, please remember that:
- A fresh tree is always green
- Fresh needles are very difficult to break
- Fresh needles are hard to pull off
- Needles should not fall off the tree
While fresh trees are much more resistant to ignition, many homeowners do choose to go the artificial route. If you do, make sure it has the “fire resistant” label on it. Furthermore, if you purchase a metallic tree, do not use electrical lights.
3. Don’t Overburden Electrical Sockets
I would like to reiterate that December is the deadliest month for electrical fires. With Christmas lights illuminating, extra kitchen appliances operating and most likely, a bunch of new gadgets entering your house, homeowners tend to overburden their electrical sockets. You should never plug in more than one extension cord or power strip per socket.
We understand that you need to have dinner ready or want to use all the Christmas lights you have laying around in the basement, but electrical fires do happen and you are increasing your odds quite a bit by plugging in multiple power strips into one outlet. If the power strip is hot or you start to smell a weird odor around the outlet, turn all electronics off and cut back on the outlet’s usage.
4. Prepare Home for Vacation
As is the case every year, many homeowners visit loved ones or go on vacation during the holidays. Even though you are not home, your house is still at risk.
First and foremost, ask a neighbor to check in once and awhile. In case someone breaks in, someone needs to alert the police ASAP. Speaking of the police, notify them of your vacation plans. They should check in once a day if they know you are gone. Finally, pause your mail and newspaper. If these start to stack up on your yard or mailbox, you are pretty much broadcasting your vacancy for the holidays. Burglars love this.
And even if you are away, there are always tricks you can take from the famous Home Alone movies.
5. Set Automatic Timer on Lights
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I realize not every homeowner has this function in his or her home, but automatic timers are perfect for the holidays. As I iterated in safety tip No. 4, homeowners should never broadcast the fact that they have left for the holidays. Other than pausing your mail and newspaper, a terrific way to fool burglars is by turning on your lights at night. Yes, this will drive up your electric bill a little, but once again, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are thinking about investing in automatic timers, be sure to check out our cost estimator for installing electrical switches.
6. Be Careful Hanging Lights
After reading our 10 Last Minute Holiday Decoration Ideas, I am sure many of our avid fans are busy hanging lights and ornaments throughout the home. While we may think we are Superman at times, hanging lights in tall areas inside and outside the home can be dangerous. When using a ladder, make sure it is sturdy and standing comfortably on even ground. Given the cold and icy conditions outside, we highly recommend a partner who can hold the ladder as you hang your decorations. Remember, don’t reach beyond your limits. If you must come down and move the ladder, do it.
7. Clear Area Around Fireplace
If you read our 5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Gas Bill During the Winter, than you know lighting a fire in the fireplace is a great way to heat up your home. Many families use their fireplace during the holidays, but with presents, decorations and additional family members gathering around the fire, it is imperative to remove all greens, papers or any other materials from the fireplace area. Also, be sure that the flute is open before ignition. After you are finished, shut the fireplace damper and seal the opening to prevent heat from leaving your home.
If you are thinking about installing a fireplace in your home, see what you can expect to pay with our fireplace and chimney cost estimator.
What safety precautions are you taking this holiday season?