How to stay safe at home during the holiday season

November 13-19, 2023

By Barry Payne


With the Halloween candy bowl empty, many homeowners are focusing on the upcoming holiday season with visions of the perfect Thanksgiving turkey and outdoor light displays.


The holidays are definitely a time for celebration and joy, but it’s important to be mindful of safety during this busy season. With plenty of distractions, you may leave the kitchen while cooking or be in a rush to hang your holiday décor, and both instances can lead to an injury or accident.


Everyone loves “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but no one wants to play out those classic Griswold disaster scenes in real life. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy the holidays at home with your loved ones.


• Holiday Décor. Decking the halls in your home can be a memorable and fun activity for your family. As you unpack your holiday decorations, inspect them for frayed wires, loose connections and discard broken bulbs. And while you’re placing decorations in your home, experts recommend being mindful of their location. More than two of every five decoration fires happen because they are placed too close to a heat source, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).


• Meal Prep and Cooking. The holidays are a popular time to prepare dishes and bake treats that create inviting aromas in your home. With the season’s demands, it’s easy to become distracted while your favorite dishes cook, which can endanger you and your loved ones. According to NFPA, one of the leading causes of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. And while cooking at home can be a cherished family activity, experts recommend having a “kid-free” zone of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.


• Fireplace Safety. Before you relax and enjoy your fireplace this holiday season, have it professionally cleaned and inspected. A professional chimney sweeper can ensure your fireplace is in the ideal condition for use and thoroughly inspect your unit for any tar-like buildup known as creosote. A creosote buildup can catch fire and spread to your home’s attic and other parts. And if you choose to hang stockings or other holiday decorations from your mantle, it’s best to remove them as a precaution when your fireplace is in use.


• Ladder Safety. If you’re hanging decorations in and around your home, you might find yourself using a ladder. Before you climb that first rung, read and follow all the manufacturers’ instructions on the ladder and then place it on a stable and level surface. And while it may be tempting, do not overreach. Safety experts recommend stepping down from the ladder and moving it closer to prevent falls.


• Check Security Systems and Detectors. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to check your home security system and circuit breakers to ensure they are in working order. Generally, homeowners should check the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are operable. And experts recommend replacing hard-wired and battery-powered detectors every 10 years. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly in a house fire.


Taking these extra precautions, you can help create a safe and enjoyable holiday season for your family and friends.