Christmas Safety Tips for Homeowners: Avoiding Holiday Hazards

It takes only seconds for faulty wiring to engulf a Christmas tree in flames.

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The holidays are filled with all kinds of delights, from delicious delicacies and cookies to a brightly lit Christmas tree with shiny packages beneath it. But the holidays are also full of seasonal hazards that could ruin your celebrations. Make sure you’ve taken all the necessary precautions to prevent mishaps from minor to life-threatening this  year:

Christmas Lights

Before you decorate the outside of your house or drape your Christmas tree in twinkling lights, take the time to check every strand to make sure there are no frayed wires, cracked lights or loose connectors. If you have to replace any of the lights, unplug the strand before adding new bulbs.

26018910 - short circuit, burnt cable, on dark color background
An electrical fire can send your Christmas tree up in flames. Make sure all electrical wiring is safe.

Although it’s lovely to return to your brightly lit house after being out, it’s not a good idea to leave decorative lights on while the house is empty. You should also turn off the lights when you’re asleep. A smoldering electrical fire can quickly ignite your tree and presents and turn into a dangerous house fire.

Also be aware that the decorative electric candles that many people put in their windows can cause a fire, particularly if they use the older, traditional candelabra bulbs that get hot to the touch. If a curtain falls against one of these bulbs it can get hot enough to burn a hole in your window treatments or ignite them. If you can, replace older electric candles with newer, LED models that look just as good but don’t overheat.

Christmas Trees

Don’t purchase your Christmas tree too soon or buy one that’s been languishing for days or weeks before you take it home. The fresher the better – it will not only be safer and less likely to ignite, it will fill your home with a wonderful pine fragrance. Be sure you water your tree thoroughly and check it often. Christmas trees can soak up a lot of water, particularly during the first few days after you’ve set it up.

Do you own a cat? If so, make sure he knows that the Christmas tree is NOT a jungle gym. Many trees are knocked over by curious cats climbing them. A tree crashing to the ground will, at the very least, mean broken ornaments with sharp edges.

Extension Cords

If it takes more than one extension cord to connect your strands of lights, you need to either buy a single, longer extension cord or forego the decorating in that area. Always check your extension cords for loose plugs, frayed wires or other signs of damage.

Smoke Detectors

Be sure to check your smoke alarms. There are more house fires around the Christmas holidays than any other time of year. You don’t want to have to flee your house after a fire has been burning for any length of time. Prevent a possible tragedy by making sure your smoke detectors are working properly and do  few fire drills to make sure everyone knows the best route to get out of the house.

Packages & Holiday Decor

Most of us love decorating our homes for the holidays and putting beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, but beware of having too much clutter of any kind. Don’t put up your Christmas tree where it blocks a potential exit in case of emergencies. The same goes for packages – if they’ll be under the tree for a few days, make sure they’re pushed back far enough that they won’t be a tripping hazard for children and pets.

Your House

Never, ever leave your house unlocked during the holidays when you’re away. There is a spike in home robberies near Christmas because thieves know you’ll have lots of new presents just waiting for them. Also, if you use social media, don’t brag about the beautiful new television set, computer game or jewelry you are giving or receiving. Thieves troll the Internet looking for people who overshare information about expensive swag. They see this as an invitation to help themselves to your gifts.

Sidewalks & Driveways

There will be lots of visitors this time of year, and the sun sets early. Be sure your sidewalks are well lit so that guests don’t struggle to see their way to your front door. Also make sure the driveways and sidewalks are free of snow and ice. Once you’ve shoveled these areas, be sure to put down an ice melt product like Ice B’Gone Magic, an ice melting product that’s safe for pets and children. It will keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice long after traditional rock salt has stopped working.

Candles

Whether it’s tapers on the mantle or a menorah on the table, never leave lit candles burning when there is no one to watch them. A stray breeze, an inquisitive pet or someone simply bumping the table as they walk past can all lead to your candles igniting the tablecloth, wrapping paper or whatever is close enough to act as a wick.

Pets

46093044 - male veterinarian examining great dane on cancer in vet clinic
A trip to the vet’s office with a sick dog isn’t a festive occasion for anyone.

Treat your pets kindly during the holidays and protect them from potential hazards. Even if your dog “never” gets up on the dining room chairs, an open box of chocolates left out may be too much temptation. You don’t want a late-night trip to the veterinarian’s office to get your dog’s stomach pumped. Avoid giving pets rich table scraps and foods they aren’t used to or they may end up with vomiting or diarrhea.

Many holiday plants, including poinsettias, can be poisonous to pets, so keep them out of the reach of inquisitive pets. Another hazard for pets can be candles that are placed on coffee tables or end tables. These are often at the perfect height for igniting a wagging tail or whiskers.

At Look At My Homes, we want you and your family to be safe and secure as you celebrate the season. If you have questions or concerns about the safety of your home, contact your local fire department or police department. They can point you in the right direction or provide you with more helpful information.

Safety tips for the holidays courtesy of Mr. B’s Lawn Care & Snow Removal in Ellwood City, PA. Mr. B’s can take care of all your home or business’ snow removal and ice prevention needs so that you can relax and enjoy the holidays.

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