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Essential Holiday Safety Tips for the Home

Along with all those festive decorations and family gatherings, comes an uninvited guest – holiday home hazards.

This December, keep your loved ones safe throughout the festive season: from the porch to the kitchen, here are your essential home holiday safety tips.

Keep Holiday Lighting in Check

From string lights to icicle lights and even projectors, the holidays are the season of lights! As pretty as all those lights are, there are a few precautions you should follow to keep them from becoming a fire hazard:

  • Before purchasing your Christmas lights, check for the latest recalls on the Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Database.
  • Only purchase lights that are approved by an accredited certification agency such as the CSA Group.
  • Don’t use indoor lights outdoors, and vice versa.
  • Before putting up your lights, check for broken or burned-out bulbs and swap them out with the proper replacements as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Check for exposed wire, loose connections, or fraying on light strings and extension cords.
  • Don’t overload circuits by plugging too many lights into a single outlet.
  • Turn off all of your decorative lights before leaving your home, or going to bed.

Decorate With Caution

Nothing brings a family together like holiday decorating! Keep these preventative measures in mind while decking your halls with festive flourish:

  • Before you begin, make sure all your decorations are non-combustible and flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Opt for battery-powered candles instead of real ones when possible, especially when using them for décor.
  • If you do use real candles, keep them in sturdy holders and away from other decorations, your tree, children, and pets. Blow candles out before bed, and before leaving the room.
  • Avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable, have small parts, or resemble food or candy – these pose a hazard for young children.

Keep an Eye on the Christmas Tree

From purchasing your tree, to setting it up, decorating it, then taking it down, here’s how to keep your festive fir from turning into a holiday hazard:

  • Purchase a tree with a higher moisture content – if its needles are brown, or if they fall off easily, the tree is probably too dry and can become a fire hazard.
  • If you’re purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is CSA labelled, and fire-retardant.
  • Keep your tree away from radiators, fireplaces, TVs, and other sources of heat.
  • Decorate your tree with lights that are in good working condition.
  • Check your tree’s water level daily – it should not drop below the trunk.
  • When your tree is has dried out (approximately two weeks after purchase,) it’s time to discard it.

Stay Safe In the Kitchen

The holidays abound with festive flavours and delicious dishes – here’s how to stay safe while preparing all those homemade holiday meals:

  • According to a study by Alberta Municipal Affairs, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Never leave your cooking unattended – turn off the heat before leaving the kitchen.
  • Keep papers, plastic bags, rags and other flammable materials away from burners.
  • Wear appropriate attire – including close-fitting or short sleeves – to make sure your clothes does not catch fire.
  • Make sure you have a pot lid on hand so you can smother a pan fire if it occurs.
  • If you have children, designate a “child-free zone” three feet from the stove.

Keep Fireplace Safety in Mind

Nothing’s quite as cozy as curling up next to the fireplace on a cold day! Keep fireplace safety hazards at bay while warming up this holiday season:

  • Before lighting up the hearth, ensure your fireplace is properly maintained and your chimney is clean.
  • Avoid throwing wrapping paper, cartons, boxes, or other packaging into the fireplace, as these burn very rapidly and could result in a flash fire.
  • Use split hardwood in your fireplace – this is the safest and best option in firewood.
  • Don’t let your fire smolder, or leave it unattended.
  • Hang your stockings with extra care – not while the fireplace is on!

Host Responsibly

Whether you’re having a small Christmas get-together or a huge holiday bash, keeping your guests (and your own) safety in mind is paramount when entertaining:

  • Before entertaining, make sure your smoke alarms are functional.
  • Provide ashtrays for your guests, as cigarette butts thrown in the trash are a fire hazard.
  • When serving alcohol, do so yourself so that you can monitor your guests’ drinking – never serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated.
  • Offer plenty of non-alcoholic options along with your alcoholic beverages.
  • Be sure your guests have a safe way of getting home, and prepare for those that need a place to stay overnight.

With some care and caution, you can keep your family and home safe this holiday season and avoid these common holiday hazards. However, accidents happen with even the most careful and prepared homeowners – whether it concerns your home or vehicle, when you start the claims process with Desjardins you can rest assured you will receive all the support you need to get things back to normal quickly and easily.

Happy Holidays!

Essential Holiday Safety Tips for the Home

There’s a nip in the air and the neighbourhood’s twinkling with lights – that can only mean one thing: the holiday season is here!