Holiday tips for Inside the Home
1. Inspect electrical decorations for damage before use: Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire. This can easily happen if decorations were stored improperly during the summer.
2. Do not overload electrical outlets: Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday fires. Avoid overloading outlets and plug only one high-wattage into each outlet at a time.
3. Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights: More than three strands may not only blow a fuse, but can also cause a fire. Better yet, switch to LED lights. In comparison to the traditional incandescent bulb, LED lights last up to 25 times longer and use 75 percent less electricity. Because they produce little heat, there is a reduced risk of a fire
4. Keep live trees fresh by watering daily: Dry trees are a serious fire hazard.
5. Use battery-operated candles: Candles start almost half of home decoration fires. If you’re going to light a candle, set a timer on your phone to remind you to blow it out before bed time. Or if you need something really obvious, put something in the way of your bedtime routine to act as a reminder. A dining room chair in front of your bedroom door works great. You’ll see the chair (or run into it) and remember to blow out a candle.
6. Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources: A common mistake is to put blankets or pillows too close to a heating vent. Nothing should be touching where heat comes out of in your home.
7. Protect cords from damage: To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors and windows, placed under rugs, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples.
8. Check decorations for certification label: Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL) have not been tested for safety and could be hazardous.
9. Stay in the kitchen when something is cooking: Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires. It’s a very busy time of year and it can be tempting to run some errands while food is cooking, but use the time to multi-task in other ways.
10. Turn off, unplug, and extinguish all decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house: Unattended candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
*inside tips are courtesy of Electrical Safety Foundation International
Holiday tips for Outside the Home
1. Keep your travel plans offline: If you are planning to travel during the holiday season, be sure to keep your travel plans off your social media networks. Never post where you are going, when you are leaving, or when you will be back. This is prime information for a thief because he will know when your house will be empty.
2. Notify a neighbor: If you are planning to go out of town during the holiday season, be sure to notify a trusted neighbor. Ask the neighbor to keep an eye on your house and report any suspicious activity. You’ll also want this neighbor to keep your walks cleared of snow and to pick up your mail and newspapers while you are away. Make sure your house looks like somebody is home to deter a burglar.
3. Hide Christmas gifts and packages: You probably want to keep gifts out of sight from children, but you also want to make sure gifts are hidden from a potential burglar as well. Putting pretty wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree looks nice, but it’s also an open invitation for a burglar. Try to keep your Christmas tree, with gifts underneath, away from windows or other places with a view.
4. Watch your Christmas lights: Be sure to turn any holiday lights off when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed. Try using an outdoor timer or smart outlet to switch lights on and off. And it’s a good idea to review how to use a fire extinguisher and make sure yours is accessible and unexpired.