'Tis the Season...for Accidents: Preventing Holiday Home Mishaps
Things change around the house during the holidays. One family member is perched on a sky-high ladder hanging up festive lights on your home's exterior. Another is slaving over a hot stove for hours on end. Youngsters are playing on all sorts of unfamiliar, newfangled toys. And there's often a huge, flammable tree in the living room. Needless to say, the opportunities for accidents are many during this time of year. While we hope to let a sense of joy and gratitude reign over this month in Illinois, it's also prudent to be cautious and take a few steps to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property during this vulnerable time.
Decorative Lights, Candles, or Dried-Up Conifers = Recipe for a House Fire:
Forbes.com has reported that over 400 Americans die in holiday-related house fires every year. To avoid becoming a statistic, do the following:
- Carefully examine your decorative lights for any loose connections or frayed wires. If anything looks amiss, invest in a new set.
- Never use an indoor extension cord outside; indoor cords aren't waterproof, and in wet climates this could spell disaster.
- Unplug decorative lights when you're away.
- Never let candles burn unattended. If you aren't going to be in the room where they are burning, blow them out. Keep them on stable, flat surfaces at a safe distance from anything flammable (i.e. wrapping paper).
- Set up your Christmas tree in a location that is distant from your fireplace or wood stove, as well as any candles. Don't allow a dried-up tree to remain in the house.
Poisonous Plants and Perilous Climbs:
Some of the things we do in the name of décor-bringing all kinds of flora indoors and climbing tall ladders in order to deck the halls-are quite dangerous. According to The Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are 1,200 holiday decorating-related accidents every year. In addition to taking extra care when you ascend that latter or wield that staple gun, you should also know this:
- Christmas cacti, holly berries, and mistletoe (everyone's favorite holiday plants) are all poisonous if swallowed. Keep them out of reach of children and pets.
- While not as potently poisonous as the other plants, poinsettias can make both pets and people sick, so keep them out of reach, too.
Burglars like to take advantage of the holidays. Not only do many homeowners leave town for extended periods, they also often leave their houses full of newly purchased treasures. To dissuade burglars from entering your home in your absence, take these steps:
- Set a handful of indoor lights to a timer, so that they will turn on and off at regular intervals, giving the impression that someone may be home.
- Ask a neighbor to remove your daily morning paper from the front stoop every day, as well as remove your mail from the box. Doing so will also create the impression that someone is home.
We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.