Whether we’re ready for it or not, the holidays have officially arrived. For most people, the holiday season is jam-packed with friends, family and festivities, but did you know that between all the travel, cooking and decorating, your home could be at risk for potentially serious hazards?
With a little preparation and awareness, you can help avoid a holiday disaster. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Be smart when decorating. To reduce the risk of fire, be sure to use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. If you choose an artificial tree, choose a quality tree with only UL listed lights. If you are using a fresh tree, make sure there is always water in the stock.
Be careful with light. Did you know that Christmas, New Year̵7;s Eve and New Year’s Day are the three best days for candle fires in the home? If you light candles this Christmas, keep them at least 1 food grade away from anything that burns and make sure all your candles (not to mention matches!) are out of reach of children and pets. Don’t forget to blow them out if you leave the room or go to bed.
Keep your tree away from heat. Although it can make for a picture-worthy setting, keep your trees well away from the fireplace or any other form of heat source. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that start with Christmas trees.
Unlock and keep it closed. It is unfortunate, but during the holiday season the number of home burglaries increases. Always lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock your windows and take note of strangers in your neighborhood.
Protect your pipes. Rapid temperature drops, poor insulation and thermostats set too low are a perfect recipe for frozen pipes in winter. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic to avoid unforeseen damage, even if you live in a climate where freezing is rare.
Shop smart and be aware. If you’re shopping in-store, keep wallets, passports, smartphones and other sensitive items safely tucked away in either a purse or pocket, and only take them out when needed. If you’re more of an online shopper, only share your credit card and payment information on trusted sites.
Clean and inspect your fireplaces. Whether it’s a wood-burning or gas-burning stove, it’s still a fire hazard, and an important one at that. Fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected regularly to avoid fire hazards.
Stand by your cookware. The increased use of stoves and ovens to cook holiday meals increases the risk of home fires. Be diligent and keep an eye on your stovetops and ovens while you prepare your next big party.
Do not overcrowd electrical outlets. We’ve probably all seen the iconic Christmas lights scene in the movie Christmas Vacation, but did you notice his overloaded electrical outlet? When setting up your holiday lights, try to spread the electrical load across multiple circuits to prevent one from overloading and starting a fire. If you use extension cords, make sure you have heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety. This is also a good time to make sure your switches are up to code (see Stab-Lok information below).
Have you heard of Stab-Lok?
Stab-Lok is a brand of circuit breakers installed in residential and commercial buildings between 1950 and 1985. The purpose of these circuit breakers is to prevent a building from burning in the event of an abnormality in the electrical circuit. However, research has recently found that some Stab-Lok switches do not trip according to UL requirements, and in some cases can become stuck in the “on” position. If your home or commercial property is equipped with a Stab-Lok breaker, consider taking the precaution of replacing them with a brand new panel board and breaker.
If you have questions about your circuit breaker, ask your local Bolder Insurance Advisor.
Don’t forget your pets. Keep in mind that the stress of the holidays doesn’t just affect you; it can also wreak havoc on your pets. Pets can be overactive or territorial when unfamiliar guests enter your home. Try to keep them as relaxed as possible to avoid bites or other injury.
Follow these tips for a safe, happy holiday.
This article is provided by Secure Insurance Company, A Bolder Insurance partner.