The temperature is dropping, the days are getting shorter and the nights are filled with twinkling holiday lights as we await (almost) everyone’s favorite time of year. The holiday season can be excited, busy and beautiful. From Thanksgiving to New Year, it’s time to enjoy family traditions, celebrate with loved ones and make unforgettable memories. Keep your holiday festivities in check and fun by covering all your bases and staying safe with a little help from us!
General Safety Tips
Before we get into the real dangers that can come with the holidays, lets talk about a few things you can do to make your holiday celebrations smoother, safer and more enjoyable than ever before.
- Keep Your Hands Clean: Washing your hands regularly is one of the most important preventative measures you can take during the holidays. Washing hands with soap and clean running water throughout the busy bustle will help prevent spreading germs to guests and loved ones. (CDC)*Need to sneeze or cough? Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or upper sleeve/elbow instead of your hand.
- Stay Cozy & Warm: There’s nothing better in the winter than coming home to a warm, cozy house to help you defrost your bones. Staying warm in the winter is just important in general – the bitter cold temperatures off the coast of Lake Michigan in Chicago can cause serious health issues among children and the elderly.
- Winterize & Prep: Prepping for the cold weather also helps prepare it for the holidays. Work out a plan to winterize your home and let it become part of your annual property inspection. This will help you spot problems with wiring, smoke detectors or your fireplace before a big problem occurs.
- Filter Friendly Furnaces: Fireplaces are warm, inviting and beautiful – especially when it’s freezing out – but, they can cause serious risks to you or your home if mismanaged. Prevent Carbon Monoxide hazards by having a qualified heating contractor conduct a yearly maintenance check or your venting system, furnace and chimney. Be sure to clean and replace your filter during heating season.
- Hang Outdoor Lights with Care: Most tips cover the inside of your home, but it’s also important to keep the outside of your home in order as well. Hang outdoor lights by securing them with clips, hooks or insulated holders. Avoid using tacks, which can damage wiring and cause potentially dangerous electrical issues. It’s also imperative that you keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from your metal gutters.
- Check the Labels: When purchasing festive string lights, electrical decorations, extension cords, appliances, alarms and so on, be sure to check for the certification of an accredited organization such CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that they comply with appliance standards for safety & performance.
- Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets: Always remember – never connect more than one extension cord together. Use a single cord long enough to reach the outlet without getting tangled. Go ahead and use as many string-lights as you like – just don’t plug more than three strings into each other – use a power strip instead.
- Unplug & Turn Off: Heading out or going to bed? Be sure to turn off all the decorative holiday lights, both inside and out. While you’re at it, double check to make sure any unnecessary space heaters are unplugged as well.
*Note: Make this part extra easy by using light timers. This will save you time and money!
- Keep Travel Plans Private: Posting on social media when and where you’ll be for the holidays could make your home a target for potential burglars. If you do plan on going out of town, let your neighbors know to keep an eye on your home and collect your mail until your return.
Holiday Fire Safety
The best part of the coldest time of year is getting home, peeling off the layers and getting into your cozy clothes to warm up by the fire. Some of us have space heaters that get turned on as soon as we get home! The holiday season also brings with it decorative lights, candles and tons of delicious cooking – all of which could be a potential fire hazard. Here are few simple ways to stay safe and have fun this holiday season!
General Fire Safety
Stay safe this holiday season by keeping an eye on small flames and fires. Don’t leave your candles unattended and, as much as you may be tempted to, don’t hang stocking on your fireplace (one flickering ember could send it ablaze!).
Be extra careful when frying your turkey. Avoid grease fires by ensuring the oil is the right temperature and always fry outside, in a well-ventilated location.
*Note: Remember, don’t use water to extinguish a fire. Rather, either have a fire extinguisher on hand or douse it with baking soda.
- Check the lights: Carefully inspect all of your decorations for damage before using them. Look for frays, broken bulbs or exposed wire. If any of these are found – it’s time for a new set! Check for damaged/cracked outlets and loose/bare wire, as these may cause a serious shock or start a fire in your home.
- Speaking of Outlets: Don’t overload your outlets. Faulty wires and overloaded outlets are a common cause of fires during the holidays. You can avoid overloading your outlets by plugging only one high-voltage item into an outlet at a time.
- Rule of Three: Generally, it’s advised to plug no more than three sets of string-lights together at a time. More than three might not only blow a fuse, but could cause a fire.
- Water the Tree: Who doesn’t love coming home to the scent of fresh pine? However, if your Christmas tree isn’t watered daily, it can dry out and ignite in just seconds. Use a sturdy and deep stand that can hold plenty of water and, of course, don’t decorate it with candles.
- Careful with Combustibles: Keep combustibles at least three feet from any heat sources. The NFPA found that nearly half of all holiday home fires began with decorations too close to an open flame.
- Protect Wires from Damage: Avoid shock and fire by ensuring no cables are being pinched by furniture or wedged into small spaces such as doors and windows. Avoid running them under rugs or placing them near a heat source, and never attach them using a nail gun or staples.
- Check for Certification Labels: Your decorations should bare a label from an independent testing bad such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standard Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETC). If they do not show these labels, they have not been tested for safety and can be hazardous.
- Mind the Kitchen: Never leave food in the oven or on the stove unattended. Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires according to the NFPA.
- Shut it Down: You might be tempted to leave your home glowing brilliantly all night long or while you’re away, but that can be very dangerous. It is best for your home and your wallet to turn off all your decorative lights when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping.
*Note: automate it! Use light timers on indoor and outdoor lights so you can set it & forget it!
If you’re unsure about the fire safety of your home, get in touch with one of our experts today!