The annual holiday season has rolled around again. Where did the time go? Before long, we will be gathering with family members and friends to enjoy lots of memories, plenty of laughter, good food, and all the rest. With the holidays now on our doorstep, are you ready for a safe 2024 holiday season?
The annual holiday season should be one of laughter and good cheer. And while there is no way to guarantee nothing will ever go wrong, there is also no need to engage favorite holiday traditions recklessly. With just a little bit of effort and some common sense, anyone can make the holidays safer by avoiding hazards.
Carefully Consider Decorations
What would Thanksgiving and Christmas be without all the decorations? We love our cornucopias and fruit bowls. We look forward to setting up the Christmas tree and all the lights. This is the one time of year when we can really go all out with decorations and not feel like we are being garish or ostentatious. Still, caution should be the rule of the day.
The National Safety Council offers the following holiday decorating tips:
1. Beware of Poisonous Plants
Some of the plants we decorate with are dangerous to children and pets alike. If you are planning to decorate with amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, or Jerusalem cherry, make sure to keep the plants well out of reach. Also, remember that holly berries can detach from the plant and fall to the floor.
2. Be Safe with Your Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is a staple decoration this time of year. Artificial trees should be fire resistant and in good condition. Do not use an artificial tree if there are broken limbs or loose pine needles that could be grabbed and accidentally swallowed by children.
If you are using a live tree, be sure to cut about two inches off the bottom of the trunk before installing. Then, water it regularly. Be sure the tree is kept at least three feet away from any heat sources – especially fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
3. Be Safe with Lights and Ornaments
Hanging lights is a lot of fun. However, do not mix-and-match your light strings. Only those specifically designed to be used outdoors should be. If any of your light strings exhibit broken or frayed chords, either dispose of them or repair them before installation.
Where ornaments are concerned, avoid using glass if you can. Any ornaments that are easily breakable should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Finally, do not use any small ornaments that could easily be swallowed.
Holiday Fire Safety
Fire safety is always a big issue this time of year. Between cold temperatures and the desire to create just the right atmosphere, it is easy to accidentally start a fire. That is the last thing you want. Perhaps the biggest danger here are candles. This isthe time of year when families burn candles in their advent wreaths and menorahs. It should be no surprise that the National Fire Protection Association says the annual Christmas season is the “peak time of year for home candle fires.”
What is the lesson? Be incredibly careful with candles. Never place burning candles near flammable substances. Never leave burning candles unattended. And if you can use flameless candles rather than the real thing, all the better.
All the standard fire safety tips apply during the holiday season as well. They include things like not leaving unattended pots and pans on a hot stove and making limited use of extension cords. If you are burning wood in your fireplace, make sure you have a screen in front to catch any embers.
You might be planning to hit the road or take to the skies this holiday season. If you are traveling by car, it might be a good idea to have a quick tune up and maintenance check a few days before you leave. Make sure your tires and brakes are in good condition. Make sure all your fluids are topped off.
When you’re packing the car, be sure to include an emergency roadside kit just in case you break down. You will want some food, some blankets, and a first aid kit. Having a spare battery or two for your cell phone (if possible) is not a bad idea either.
1. Protecting Your Home
There is also the matter of protecting your home while you are away. In a recent blog post talking about Labor Day safety, Vivint mention the fact that intruders often look for unoccupied homes to target. This time of year, robust holiday travel means plenty of unoccupied homes.
A home security system may be your best defense against intruders. A system that makes noise is a good start, but it is better to have one that comes with 24/7 remote monitoring. A remote monitoring package guarantees that someone is always keeping an eye on your home, even when you are not.
2. Making Your Home Look Lived In
You can enhance the benefits of a home security system by taking steps to make your home look like it is being lived in. A home security system with built-in home automation tools makes that easier by affording you the opportunity to program different lighting scenes.
Above and beyond technology, pay attention to the old standbys:
- Stop mail delivery while you’re away
- Have a neighbor put out your garbage for you
- Have a neighbor park in your driveway
- Ask a friend or family member to stop by and check the house.
Anything you can do to give the impression that your home is still occupied helps to deter burglary and home invasion. Common sense steps, combined with a monitored home security system, should do the trick.
Remember that holiday safety isn’t achieved on its own. It does not happen by accident. If you want to be safe, you have to think safety. You have to do those little things that eliminate hazards and minimize risk.