The holiday season is a time of joy, warmth, and celebration. It’s a time when families come together, homes are decorated with festive lights, and the aroma of baked goods fills the air.
But amidst the cheer and merriment, it's imperative that homeowners remain vigilant. The holiday season brings with it a unique set of hazards that can put your home and family at risk.
From fire hazards to burglary, being aware of these potential issues and taking preventive measures can go a long way in ensuring a safe and secure holiday season.
1. Decoration safety
Decorating your home is a cherished tradition that brings joy and festive spirit to your surroundings, but it's crucial to approach it with caution and thoughtfulness. While the process of adorning your home with lights, ornaments, and other festive items is exciting, it can pose risks if not done mindfully.
Anchor outdoor decorations
One of the primary concerns during the holiday season is the outdoor decorations, which if not properly anchored, can become dangerous projectiles. Windy weather can turn even seemingly harmless decorations into potential hazards, causing damage to your property or posing a threat to passersby. Properly securing outdoor decorations with sturdy hooks, stakes, or other suitable fasteners can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
Thoughtfully decorate your living areas
In regards to interior decorations, it's vital to consider the placement of decorations around your home. Avoid blocking doors and windows with large or cumbersome ornaments. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or any other evacuation situation, you need to have clear and unobstructed exits. Blocking pathways can impede your escape and put you and your loved ones at risk. Remember, a little extra care and attention can go a long way in ensuring a joyful and secure celebration.
2. Fire safety
One of the most significant holiday hazards is fire. The combination of string lights, candles, and decorations—while beautiful—can pose a serious risk if not handled correctly. (And don’t neglect your kitchen either!)
Inspect holiday lights
Before decking your halls, carefully inspect all your holiday lights. Check for frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked insulation. Replace faulty lights and sockets, and repair existing cracks immediately. Using damaged lights can lead to electrical fires, so it's essential to ensure they are in good condition before hanging them indoors—or outdoors.
Consider flameless LED candles
Candles are a common cause of house fires, especially when left unattended. If you enjoy the warm glow of candles, consider using flameless LED candles as an alternative, especially if you have young ones or pets in the household. These candles provide a similar ambiance without the risk of an open flame. They are a practical and beautiful way to decorate your home without compromising safety.
Practice kitchen safety
The aroma of fresh baked cookies and pies and all sorts of treats is one of the most delightful parts of the holiday season; so It's important to practice kitchen safety to prevent fires. Never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking, especially when using stovetops and ovens. Keep flammable items, such as kitchen towels, curtains, and paper products, away from the stove and oven. And, make sure to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it in case of a small cooking fire (this goes for year round cooking).
3. Burglary prevention
Unfortunately, the holiday season also sees a spike in burglary incidents. Over 83,000 home burglaries occur in December on average, resulting in roughly $130 million in losses annually.1 To protect your home and belongings, be sure to evaluate and supplement your current home security plan. Here are some measures to consider:
Home security system
If you don’t already have one in place, consider installing a comprehensive home security system equipped with surveillance cameras and alarms. Visible security measures act as a strong deterrent to potential intruders; the presence of cameras and alarms signals that your home is protected, discouraging burglars from attempting a break-in.
Smart home technology
Explore the benefits of smart home technology, such as smart locks and doorbell cameras. These devices allow you to monitor and control your home security remotely through smartphone apps. Smart locks enable you to lock and unlock doors from anywhere, enhancing your control over access while doorbell cameras provide real-time video footage of your doorstep.
Timers for lights
If you plan to travel over the holidays, use timers for your lights and other electronic devices. Program the timers to turn lights on and off at specific intervals, creating the illusion of an occupied home. This simple trick can deter burglars, as they are less likely to target homes that appear to have residents inside.
Posting on social media
While it's tempting to share your holiday adventures on social media, be cautious about revealing that you are away from home. Avoid posting real-time updates about your travels and save your vacation photos for posting after you've returned home.
4. Weather-related issues
Depending on where you live, winter weather can wreak havoc on your home. From frozen pipes to roof damage, it's essential to take proactive measures to prepare for adverse weather conditions and minimize potential risks.
Prevent frozen pipes
Frozen pipes are a common winter woe that can result in substantial damage to your home. To prevent pipes from freezing, insulate those located in unheated areas of your home, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Additionally, allow faucets connected to vulnerable pipes to drip slowly during freezing temperatures. The flow of water, even at a minimal rate, can prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, saving you from extensive water damage—and costly repairs.
Maintain your roof
Your roof is your first line of defense against winter weather, so it's important to keep it in good condition and clear of debris. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which occur when melted snow refreezes at the edge of the roof, forming a barrier that prevents proper drainage. Ice dams can cause water to seep under the shingles, leading to leaks and potential structural damage.
Inspect your attic
Proper attic insulation and ventilation can also help with preventing ice dams, as well as maintaining a consistent temperature in your home. Inspect your attic for adequate insulation and ventilation to ensure warm air doesn't escape from your living spaces and cause snow on the roof to melt unevenly, which can contribute to the formation of ice dams.
5. Insurance coverage
Reviewing your insurance policy is often overlooked but is necessary, especially during the holiday season when the risk of incidents like thefts or damage can be higher.
Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy
Take the time to thoroughly read and understand your homeowner's insurance policy and know what is covered and what isn't. Policies can vary widely, so being aware of the specifics of your coverage can prevent unpleasant surprises in case of a mishap. Understanding the details of your policy helps you make informed decisions about additional coverage if necessary.
Keep an updated inventory
In the event of a loss, like a theft or fire, having a detailed inventory will significantly streamline the insurance claim process. Create and maintain an inventory of your personal belongings. This inventory should include descriptions, photographs, and, if possible, receipts for major purchases. Regularly update this inventory as you acquire new valuables to ensure accurate documentation.
Home for the holidays
The holiday season should be a time of joy, not a time of worry. Being proactive and taking necessary precautions empowers homeowners to protect their homes and families from potential holiday-related hazards.
From fire safety to burglary prevention and weather-proofing, a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring a safe and secure holiday season. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and enjoy the festive season with peace of mind, knowing that you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect your home sweet home.
1 Porch Research. “2022 Study: America’s Holiday Burglary Hotspots.” Porch. Published 4 November 2022. Accessed 3 November 2023.https://porch.com/advice/burglary-hotspots-study2022#:~:text=Roughly%201%20million%20burglaries%20take,words%