Fires might be the first safety concern around the holidays, but we’ve added a few more personal tips to avoid a toxic holiday. Holiday’s are exciting, but with the stress of decorating, gift shopping, entertaining and traveling, it’s easy to forget about fire hazards and personal safety precautions.
The hustle and bustle of winter holidays are responsible for two big stats. One statistic from the National Fire Protection Association shows home fires occur most often during the winter months. Following NFPA tips will keep you on the safe side of holiday cooking and decorating. The second stat is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their records show holiday-related accidental injuries account for over 12,500 emergency room visits.
As insurance agents, the safety and protection of our customers lives and property is our priority. A quick call to the knowledgeable staff at Brady Insurance Group will assure you the best coverage with the most discounts. We compare rates with over 50 A-rated companies to offer you Life Insurance, Home Owners Insurance, Renters Insurance, Car Insurance, and Business Insurance. Call 866.764.1944 to be sure you have the best coverage before you get carried away with holiday distractions.
More often than you might imagine these common holiday hazards are overlooked by distracted holiday revelers. Take precautions, know the warning signs, and you’ll prevent your home and loved ones from becoming victims of toxic holidays.
#1 Basic Fire Prevention
Are your smoke detectors up-to-date? Test each one and replace batteries as needed. If you don’t have smoke detectors, now’s the time to install them.
A smoke detector that keeps going off can be caused by dust that has collected inside. Other malfunctions can be caused by nuisance triggers, like bathroom steam or cooking fumes. To clean your smoke detector remove the cover and vacuum the inside. Replace the detector cover and press the test button to make sure it’s working. If the problem persists, relocate the smoke detector farther away from sources of smoke or steam.
Every home should have a fire extinguisher on each floor, near exits, and where they can be easily reached. Create a fire plan with your family that includes understanding how to use fire extinguishers.
#2 Heat Up A Room Safely
Temperatures drop even in Florida. Fireplaces and space heaters are cranked up. National Fire Protection Association reports heating equipment as the second-biggest cause of home fires every year.
Fireplaces are appearing more and more in Florida homes. Both built-in and freestanding fireplaces pose the same risks. Before lighting your fire make sure your chimney is swept, and the damper is open. You’ll be sorry if you don’t know what a fireplace damper is. Putting a protective screen or grate in front of the fireplace will keep sparks from escaping.
Don’t toss wrapping paper into the fireplace. That may seem harmless, but throwing anything into the fireplace fire poses a flash fire risk. Split hardwood or compressed logs are the best things to burn.
NFPA recommends keeping space heaters at least 3 feet from items that might easily burn, including upholstery and the Christmas tree. Don’t use an extension cord with your space heater. Be sure to read the instructions that came with it.
#3 Overpacked Outlets are an invitation for fire.
Overpacked outlets are the cause of half of all residential fires. No matter what your religion, decorative lights add a festive glow to homes and neighborhoods during holiday nights. An overcrowded outlet can cause electrical malfunctions called a short or arc fault.
To prevent electrical shorts install an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlet which will detect and automatically shut down an arcing circuit. On top of that easy solution be smart about stringing your lights. Keep your outlet’s total load under 15 amps (you’ll find the count per string on the lights box.) Replace any light strings that are broken or worn out or have loose bulb connections. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. And lastly, always unplug the lights before you go to bed or leave your home.
#4 Candlelight Caution
It should be no surprise the month of December has the highest incidence of home candle fires in the US. All burning candles should be kept a minimum of one foot from flammable items, including Christmas trees. LED candles on trees are just a pretty and much safer. Candles add ambiance to a dinner table but make sure they are placed in stable candle holders or on top of a dish.
#5 Holiday Trees
Christmas trees account for over 200 home fires each year. Following are precautions that are key to avoid becoming one of those statistics.
1) Choose the freshest tree possible.
2) Keep your tree from becoming dehydrated by cutting the trunk off an inch from the bottom, fill the stand with water as soon as the tree is upright, and refill it daily. This allows it to absorb more moisture and slows drying time. You’ll be surprised to see just how much water your tree “drinks” daily.
3) Consider investing in an automatic watering system like the Quench-A-Tree, which looks like a wrapped gift.
4) Set up your tree at least 3 feet from any heat source, such as a radiator, fireplace, or space heater. Heat expedites the drying process.
For even greater safety add TreeSafe, an alarm from Sooner Alarms. The TreeSafe can hang directly on your tree and looks like an ornament. TreeSafe is a heat-sensing device that works at the source of a fire. It communicates wirelessly to a remote alarm allowing homeowners to contain a tree fire before it spreads.
See more tips about choosing and Prepping a Christmas tree.
#6 Christmas Tree Mold
If your sneezing and sniffling coincide with the arrival of your real Christmas tree, you could be reacting to mold spores. A simple precaution will prevent allergic reactions for guests and loved ones. Before bringing your freshly cut tree indoors just hose it down and spray it with a mold-resistant sealant like M-1 Sure Cote, and allow it to dry. When shopping for your tree consider asking the grower about the pollination behavior of their trees: allergy sufferers should steer clear of mountain cedar trees that pollinate in late November to early December.
Keep in mind that some mold can grow naturally on living trees and even an artificial tree in storage accumulates dust that can aggravate allergies. Consider keeping an air purifier in the room of the display. Also, wear an allergy relief mask while decorating your tree.
#7 Toppling Trees and Ominous Ornaments
Kid-proofing (and animal-proofing) holiday decor should be a priority. Children and pets pose a tip-over risk so place your tree in a sturdy stand rated for the tree’s size and position it in a low-traffic area. As for ornaments, avoid real or artificial candy and popcorn that can lure kids and pets to tug at the tree and pose choking hazards if eaten.
#8 Strings of Lights
Always inspect strings of holiday lights before you hang and plug them in. Look for loose connections, frayed wires, broken bulbs, and broken sockets. Any of those problems indicate fire and electrocution hazards. Just toss problem light strings. They are usually the cheapest of decorations.
Keep in mind that the larger a bulb is, the more heat it produces, so inspect surfaces after your first light up to monitor for possible damage to your Christmas tree, or your outside trees and gutters.
Read packages carefully to determine the right set of lights for your home. Regardless of your bulb size or color preferences make sure the carton it comes in has a UL seal on it. UL-certified products have undergone testing for safety and durability. Only use lights labeled for outdoor use in your exterior lighting displays.
Finally, use as few power cords as possible to prevent overloading and before turning in for the night shut off all your lighting decorations.
#9 High-Strung Lights
Trees and roofs are favorite places for hanging outdoor holiday lights. Falling off ladders account for more than 500,000 injuries every year. These precautions are easy.
1) Don’t do it alone. It’s more fun and more accessible with help from a buddy.
2) Make the ladder level. Ladder jacks and levelers are available.
3) Don’t overreach and don’t climb with full hands.
4) Don’t step on the two uppermost treads. Most ladders are marked with that caution but can wear off.
5) Always close ladders when not in use.
#10 Flammable Gifts
Part of the holiday festivities is exchanging gifts wrapped in decorative paper. Presents are rarely thought of as flammable, but alarm companies suggest being mindful about how and where you store wrapped gifts. Don’t hide gifts near a lightbulb at the top of a closet, or near a heater where they could ignite.
When it’s time to open gifts, keep a trash bag handy to contain all the paper. Remember tip #2 —don’t be tempted to throw wrapping paper into your fireplace as it’s a flash fire risk!
Want to save the gift wrapping paper? See these ideas for Guilt-Free Wrapping.
Brady Insurance Group, is an All State agency and also represents over 50 more A-rated insurance companies. This allows us to shop rates for you. Save up to 30% by bundling insurance coverages for home owners insurance and auto insurance. Start your holidays with the peace of mind that comes with protecting your property. Call our staff experts at 866.764.1944 for a fast quote.