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Holiday Home Safety Tips For 2019
How to Have a Safe Holiday Season
Holiday Cooking Risks & Safety Tips
Never leave cooking food unattended. The most common cause of cooking fires is leaving the stove (or fryer) unattended.
Fry with care. Deep-fried turkeys have grown in popularity in recent years, but deep-frying is much riskier than roasting (53 percent of home cooking fires are ignited by fat, grease, or oil). If you go the deep-fry route, follow FEMA’s safety guidelines.
Read food labels. If you’re buying unfamiliar foods for the holidays or cooking for a bigger group than usual, read ingredient lists and be on the lookout for common allergens. Warning your guests (and avoiding known allergens) can prevent dangerous allergic reactions.
Invest in a meat thermometer. Undercooked meat can cause food poisoning. If you’re cooking meat this holiday season – especially if it’s a large animal like a turkey – use a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.
Holiday Candle Risks & Safety Tips
New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve.
Use sturdy holders for lit candles. Holders that are too light or improperly weighted increase the chances of a lit candle toppling and igniting fuel nearby.
Keep lit candles on sturdy, clear surfaces. No wobbly tables. No tables with piles of paper. A clear, steady area ensures that the candle stands upright.
Blow candles out before they burn all the way down. This is especially important for candles in glass jars, which can explode if they get too hot (which can happen if a flame gets too low).
Don’t leave candles alone. As with cooking, don’t leave a burning candle unattended. And note that kids don’t count: never leave kids in a room alone with a burning candle.
Don’t burn candles in rooms where people fall asleep. Eleven percent of candle fires sparked because someone fell asleep while the flame was burning.
Leave a clear 12 inches on every side of the flame. With plenty of clearance, it’s less likely that flammable material will blow into the flame or that the flame will catch something nearby on fire.
Consider fake candles. Flameless candle technology has come a long way in recent years. Many fake candles offer the same cozy, flickering light as the real thing – with none of the risk. (Bonus: scented candles cause allergic sinus reactions in some people, so going fake may help your guests breathe easier.)
Winter Weather Risks & Safety Tips
Prepare for bad weather. If you get snow and ice, stock up on salt and shovels ASAP. You’ll want to be prepared to keep your walkways clean before the first storm hits. Keeping the areas around your house walkable helps prevent slip-and-fall injuries.
Check your home’s seals. Make it harder for water to creep into your house by keeping your gutters clean and sealing any cracks along windows, walls, and doors. When temperatures drop, even a little water in a crack can cause problems: as it freezes, it expands, which means more room for water to get inside and do damage.
Clean your chimney. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure to clean your chimney at least once per year. The buildup of substances like creosote (which can be removed with regular cleaning) contributes to 28 percent of heating-related fires.
Follow other fire safety protocol. This fireplace safety guide from the state of Maine offers more detailed guidance on keeping your home fireplace or woodstove safe: clear the area around the fireplace, don’t burn cardboard or trash, and soak hot ashes in water and store them in a metal container after cleaning the fireplace.
Keep flammable objects at least three feet from heat sources. As with candles, keeping “stuff” away from heat sources (like space heaters, which cause 43 percent of home heating fires) can prevent fires.
Christmas Tree Risks & Safety Tips
Pay attention to your wires. Forty percent of Christmas tree fires happen because of problems with electrical distribution or lighting equipment. If you’re not sure what counts as “too much,” read and follow the instructions on your lighting equipment and / or surge protector.
Keep trees away from heat sources. About a quarter of tree fires happen because the tree is too close to a heat source (fireplace, space heater, radiator, etc.). When you choose the perfect place for your tree, make sure it’s clear of things that get hot.
Keep it watered. In the event of fire, a watered tree burns much slower than a dry tree, which increases the odds that you’ll catch the fire and put it out before serious damage is done.
Get rid of it! A shocking 21 percent of Christmas tree fires happen between February and November, possibly because trees still lingering by February are dry and more flammable. Avoid this fate for your tree by getting rid of it by mid-January.
Consider going fake. Fires aren’t the only risk Christmas trees present: they also cause allergic reactions in many people. As with candles, artificial trees can reduce your fire risk and save the sinuses of some of your loved ones.
Holiday Travel Risks & Safety Tips
Install a security system. Nobody wants to come home to a burgled house. Installing a security system – especially a “smart” system that sends you real-time updates or one alerts a central monitor – can help deter would-be thieves and ensure that any attempted burglary is addressed as soon as possible.
Install smart sensors on your water pipes. These smart-home systems can prevent water damage by sensing unusual water activity (such as what would occur if a pipe froze and burst) and automatically shutting off your water when it happens. When you’re not around to turn off the water manually, a smart sensor can offer major benefits.
Pause your mail or have a neighbor collect it. Piled-up mail or newspapers can signal to thieves that nobody’s home, so consider pausing mail delivery for the days you’ll be gone (which you can do via the USPS website) or asking a neighbor to bring it inside every few days.
Hire a shoveling service, if necessary. If you live in an area where it snows a lot, consider hiring a shoveling service while you’re away. This ensures that you’ll be able to park when you get home and that you’re not signaling your awayness loud and clear to potential burglars.
General Home Safety Tips for the Holidays
Check your smoke detectors. Replace dead batteries and hook up disconnected batteries. (We really can’t say this enough times.)
Choose flame-resistant or -retardant decorations. They can make a big difference in the event of a blaze.
Choose the right lights. Some lights are meant only for indoor use, some only for outdoor. Follow directions on the box.
Use clips, not nails, to secure lights. This prevents damage to the cords, which can spark fires.
Ask smokers to smoke outside. Provide them with a large, deep ashtray that’s not likely to overturn. Wet butts before discarding them. Ask smokers to keep their lighting equipment away from kids.
Use fireworks with care. While Fourth of July is the biggest holiday for fireworks injuries and fires, a full 10 percent happen between December 30 and January 3, with the bulk of those happening on New Year’s Day.
Holiday Home Safety Checklist
Check your smoke detectors and replace dead or missing batteries
Prevent cooking fires
Never leave cooking food unattended
Check for allergens on food labels
Use a meat thermometer
Use turkey fryers on a sturdy, level surface away from flammable materials
Keep kids away from turkey fryers
Test the fill level of a fryer with water and your turkey to avoid overfilling
Completely thaw your bird before frying to prevent splattering
Use a cooking thermometer to prevent overheating of oil
Use gloves to touch lid, pot, and handles of a fryer
Prevent candle fires
Use sturdy candleholders
Keep candles on sturdy, clear surfaces
Blow candles out before they burn all the way down
Give burning candles a one-foot berth on all sides
Never leave burning candles unattended
Never leave kids alone with burning candles
Don’t burn candles where people sleep
Consider fake candles
Prevent weather-related injuries and property damage
Buy shovels and sidewalk salt before the first storm
Update seals on your windows and doors to keep water out
Clean your chimney
Clean the area around the inside of the fireplace
Keep your roof clear of debris
Don’t burn cardboard or trash
Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container
Prevent Christmas tree fires
Don’t overload electrical outlets
Keep trees away from heat sources
Water trees regularly
Get rid of trees before they dry out
Consider a fake tree
Avoid theft and property damage while you travel
Install a home security system
Install smart water sensors
Pause mail delivery
Hire a shoveling service
Choose flame-resistant or flame-retardant decorations
Use the right lights (indoor vs. outdoor) for the decorating job and hang with clips, not nails
Ask smokers to smoke outside
Use fireworks with care
Dan grew up in the panhandle of Florida, joined the US Air Force shortly after high school and was last stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS. After serving four and a half years in the mi....
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