Holiday Safety at Home: A List Worth Checking Twice

Holiday Safety - Large

In the midst of December's bustle and cheer, it's too easy to overlook essential safety steps at home. So, we've made a list (definitely worth checking twice) so that you can help prevent accidents and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons.

General Fire Safety

  • Always attend to fireplaces, stoves and candles. Keep children at a safe distance. (It's obvious, but an essential reminder.)
  • Make sure fire detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are ship-shape. Test once a month and change batteries twice a year.
  • Every night (especially after entertaining), make it a habit to blow out all candles and turn off the Christmas lights.
  • Be attentive to keeping your stovetop clear of anything that could catch fire on the burners.

Christmas Trees

  • If you buy a live tree, make sure the needles are fresh, green and don't easily snap. Cut a few inches off the base so that it can better absorb water and then, water it all the time to keep it as moist as possible.
  • If you buy a fake tree, make sure it is made with flame retardant materials.
  • Place your tree at least three feet away from a heat source (Even if it means the hard decision to put it a foot away from the perfect place – it will still be lovely.).
  • Turn off your tree's lights every time you leave or go to bed.
  • Make sure your stand is sturdy (it may be time to finally invest in a new one).
When wrapping, make sure ribbons are too short for a child to wrap around his neck and put your scissors in a safe place out of reach.

Holiday Lighting and Decoration 

  • Check your Christmas lights to confirm that they are in good condition. Buy new ones if they’re frayed.
  • Avoid falls: take the time to get out the proper equipment for putting up exterior lights.
  • Use staples or hooks (not nails) to hang up lights.
  • If you have older ornaments or decorations, be aware that they could contain lead paint, so keep them away from children.

Children and ToysHoliday Safety - Small

  • Decorate your tree with kids in mind, if you have young children or will be entertaining them. Put ornaments that are sharp, fragile, small or food-shaped at the top of your tree. Be OK with the ones at the bottom being handled (and potentially becoming "toys").
  • Buy gifts recommended for the child's actual age so that you can guard against choking hazards.
  • Keep children and pets away from older decorations (lead paint hazard), electrical decorations/lighting and poinsettia plants (which are poisonous when eaten).
  • Don't buy tinsel this year – it's a choking hazard that can be too tempting for young children and pets.
  • When wrapping, make sure ribbons are too short for a child to wrap around his neck and put your scissors in a safe place out of reach.
  • Always supervise your child around fireplaces and candles (worth repeating).

Home Security

  • If you have a burglar alarm system, make sure to use it over the holidays.
  • Don't tell strangers about your travel plans.
  • When traveling, ask a trusted neighbor or friend to watch your house for anything suspicious (and make them cookies as a "thank you!").
Small Steps: Caution in the Kitchen
Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F. Reheat cooked food to 165 degrees F.