With the kids jingle belling and everyone spreading good cheer, it’s the most wonderful time of the year in many respects. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous time of the year as people travel more, gather more and decorate their homes for the holidays.
Our Top Tips
As you prepare to deck the halls and get jolly, it’s important to also take some precautions around your home that may help prevent accidents, injuries and theft. After all, nothing puts a damper on the holidays like a trip to the emergency room or filing a police report. Here are some holiday safety tips to help keep your family and home safe this holiday season.
1. Don’t overshare on social media
You’re swooshing on the slopes or basking on the beach, and you want to capture the moments and show your “friends” on social media just how much fun you’re having. That’s fine, but wait until you return home. No matter how locked down you think your security settings are, you don’t know who’s going to see that you’re not home and take advantage of your absence.
2. Toss trash wisely
All those carefully decorated packages under the tree often contain some big-ticket gifts. Make sure you don’t leave boxes for expensive items out by the curb since they serve as an alert to criminals that there’s something good inside to go after. Instead, break boxes down and put them in covered cans, or wait to put them out until right before the garbage trucks come.
3. Hit up your neighbors for help when traveling
This is the time when being a good neighbor pays off. If you’re traveling, ask a neighbor to pick up your packages, move your trash cans off the curb, take in newspapers (if you forgot to put your subscription on hold) and generally keep an eye on your place and keep it from looking obvious that you’re away. Using light timers can also help make it look like someone is home to any criminals who may be casing your place.
4. Take precautions with packages
If you’re having packages delivered and there’s a chance you won’t be home when they arrive, take precautions to prevent porch pirates from taking off with them. Beyond asking a neighbor to pick them up, you may also want to consider options such as Amazon Lockers and Amazon Key to make sure your packages are secured and/or take advantage of the special delivery options most companies offer. A doorbell security camera is also a good way to keep track of what’s happening on your front porch, and some offer monitored security plans that will alert police if anything suspicious is going on there.
5. Keep walkways safe
If you live in an area where temperatures dip low, make sure you keep your walkways free of ice and snow. With guests coming and going and delivery drivers depositing packages on your porch, you want to keep things as safe and dry as possible to prevent injuries.
6. Take care with your Christmas tree
Oh, Christmas tree, oh, fire hazard. According to the American Christmas Tree Association, those glorious green trees are responsible for more than $13 million in property damage during home fires each year. Make sure you keep your live tree well-hydrated, and away from furnaces, candles and other heat sources. Make sure to always turn off the lights when you leave home or go to bed. If you choose to go the artificial tree route, make sure you get a tree that’s labeled “fire-resistant” as these are less flammable. (Also keep in mind our other fire safety tips.)
7. Be careful with holiday candles
Menorahs, wreaths and other holiday decor frequently feature candles, which give off a gorgeous glow. Just make sure to keep them out of reach of kids and pets and never leave burning candles unattended. Battery-operated candles are a great alternative to traditional fire-burning candles.
8. Inspect your holiday lights closely
As you’re decorating, make sure you inspect all holiday lights – indoor and outdoor lights – for any frayed cords, cracked or broken sockets or other signs of disrepair and loose connections. Make sure you don’t try to plug too many strands into one outlet, and don’t connect more than three strands of lights to one another. Also, don’t place cords in places where they may get pinched, such as through windows or under doors. Make sure your lights have been inspected and carry an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
9. Inspect your chimneys and fireplaces
Fireplaces and furnaces are fantastic for keeping you warm and toasty, but you also need to take precautions with them. Have your furnace inspected and any chimneys swept annually. Also, make sure you only burn wood or logs that have been manufactured for that purpose (no throwing in that wrapping paper and bows!), and make sure the area around your fireplace is kept clear.
10. Mind your turkey
Frying turkeys has become an increasingly popular trend, but so have the accidents that accompany the practice. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 2004, there have been more than 150 turkey-fryer related fires, burns and other injuries, resulting in $5.2 million in property damage losses. If you choose to fry your turkey, makes sure to follow the U.S. Fire Administration turkey fryer guidelines.
Final thoughts on holiday safety
As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, make sure that you put Christmas safety first at the top of those lists. You don’t have to get your tinsel in a tangle fretting about it, but a few simple steps can help keep your holidays as merry and bright as possible.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.