With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be easy to forget some basic safety precautions. Yet, home owners need to be especially vigilant during this time since not everyone gets into the same holiday spirit. In fact, crime rates tend to rise during the holiday season – Thanksgiving to New Year’s –because of the increased number of consumers shopping and filling their houses with gifts.
But criminals aren’t the only threat to a home’s safety. Holiday lights and decorations can also pose fire hazards. That means that home owners need to take a few extra safety precautions to keep their families safe during the holiday season.
· If you’ve been thinking about installing a security system, now is a great time to do it. At the very least, make sure your front door is secured with a good quality lock – it can make a difference.
· Ask a friend or neighbor to watch your house and take in your newspaper and mail if you plan to spend the holidays away from home.
· When traveling, put lights throughout the house on timers according to your normal living pattern.
· If you are ordering gifts online, make sure a family member will be home when the boxes are delivered. Or, ask a trusted neighbor to keep the packages for you.
· Put gifts in a safe place that cannot be seen from outside of your home.
· Do not open your door to strangers. If you are expecting a delivery, know the name of the delivery company and the time they expect to deliver your packages.
· Place Christmas trees a safe distance from stoves, radiators, vents, fireplaces and any other heat source that may dry the tree. Inspect the tree for dryness daily.
· Make sure trees or other large decorations do not block doors or hallways in your home.
· Keep a fire extinguisher near your Christmas tree. Make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan. In case of fire, leave your home and call for help from a neighbor’s home.
Lights and Other Decorations
· Inspect all holiday light wiring. Defective, worn or frayed electrical wiring should be thrown away. Check for the UL label on lights. Also, be sure to use fixtures specifically designed for outdoor use if you decorate your house, trees or yard.
· Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Also, don’t run electrical cords under rugs. Be sure all lights are turned off before you go to bed or leave the house.
· Candles are one of the top causes of holiday-related fires. Place candles and other open flames away from decorations. Never leave burning candles unattended and always supervise children when burning candles.
· When buying artificial decorations, check for “flameproof” or “fire retardant” qualities.
Taking the time to follow a few safety precautions will help ensure that your holiday celebrations remain festive for your entire family.
Learn more about home safety at nahb.org/forconsumers.