It’s the holiday season, with sparkling lights, home cooked meals, and beautifully decorated trees. 90% of Americans celebrate the season with all the traditions and festivities designed to celebrate love and laughter. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a time when people forget to put safety first. According to the National Safety Council (NCS), more than 15,000 people ended up in the emergency room in 2012 due to holiday related accidents. In addition, cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and injuries, with the majority happening during the holidays. Some fires cause only minor damage and smoke injuries, others can burn a home completely to the ground.
This makes it especially important to understand how your home owner insurance works, and exactly what it would cover. Experts agree, that you ultimately want enough coverage to be able to completely rebuild your home and replace everything in it, as well as cover any medical costs. Everyone wants to have fantastic coverage, but that usually means a higher premium. You can get great protection with cheap home insurance, you just have to balance your coverage with the cost. Check to make sure you have adequate coverage, and then, make sure you holidays stay safe and happy by following these top 3 home holiday hazard safety tips for your fireplace, kitchen and holiday decorations.
- If you plan on using your fireplace this holiday season, do some prep work to make sure it is safe. Make sure the chimney is clear and clean. Have it checked by a professional if you can.
- If you are a fan of “stockings hung on the chimney with care” make sure they are either treated with flame retardant or a safe distance away from the flames. Also, never burn wreaths or wrapping paper in your fireplace.
- Stay alert and present when you are cooking. Don’t leave the room to check email or answer the door. If you do have to leave, make sure everything is turned off and safe before leaving.
- Be especially careful when frying anything. Use cooking safe oil and heat it slowly until it is the right temperature. If you see or smell smoke that means it is too hot. Turn the heat down or remove the pan from the stove. Always keep a lid close by in case the oil does catch fire. Smothering it with the lid is the quickest and safest way to get it out, NOT LIQUIDS!
- Keep your kitchen clean and safe by making sure paper, potholders, towels and plastics are all a safe distance away from cooking appliances. Make sure you clothing is not dangling around you over the cooking area. Keep grease and oil from building up over cooking areas, as they can cause a fire hazard.
- A smoke alarm should be installed some place that is near the kitchen, and try to keep a fire extinguisher nearby as well.
- Lastly, make sure everything has cooled off before you leave the kitchen to go to bed, or go out. Check that all appliances are turned off and that pots and pans are cool.
- Use the right tool for the right job when putting up decorations. Use a sturdy ladder or step stool, not stacked up boxes or furniture. If you are doing outside lights, consider having a professional install them for you. They have the tools and experience to get the job done safely.
- Check your decorations carefully, read labels if they have them. The popular decoration “angel hair” is made of spun glass that can cause eye and skin irritation. Try not to use ornaments that are made of glass and can break easily, especially if you have children. Research any plants you bring in to the house. The popular poinsettia is toxic to humans and pets, so make sure it is way out of reach.
- Lights can be especially hazardous and are responsible for most holiday tree fires. Check each strand for frayed wires and burnt out bulbs. Don’t overload extension cords and sockets. Consider getting new LED lights that stay cool and are more energy efficient. Turn off all lights before you go to sleep, or if you are leaving the house.
- Pay special attention to your tree if you get one. Examine it carefully before you buy it and make sure it is fresh. If you give it a gentle shake and the needles don’t fall off, then it is safe. Avoid letting your tree dry out by checking and watering it regularly. Set up your tree in a safe place that is away from fireplaces and walkways.