By Amy Howell Hirt
Home Safety Tips For Holidays Torch Blog Banner
The most wonderful time of the year also can be the most hazardous in your home. Police departments report a spike in burglaries from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and fire departments receive hundreds of calls involving fires caused by Christmas tree and holiday lights. Before the festivities kick into high gear, take a moment to protect your home and family by reducing the risk of these holiday hazards.

  • Potential burglars don't need to know what type of computer or flat-screen TV is now in your home. When throwing away gift packaging, break down all boxes and place them in a dark colored trash bag or closed container—not an open bin. If you're unable to use one of these containers, consider waiting to put your trash out until the day of pick-up to reduce the time that the boxes are left out in the open.
  • Likewise, don't invite burglars to window-shop. Keep valuable items like computers and piles of gifts out of easy sight, away from windows or doors. If you're going out of town, keep the shades drawn.
  • Check for identification before opening the door to a stranger, including delivery people; criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
  • If you're going to be away from home for a few days, create the illusion of occupancy. Put a couple indoor lights on timers and enlist a friend or neighbor to collect your mail, newspapers and deliveries, and have someone shovel your driveway or walkway.
  • Do not use holiday lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. From 2007 to 2011, electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in 64% of fires involving holiday or decorative lights, according to a November 2013 report from the National Fire Protection Association. Only use holiday lights that are certified by an independent testing laboratory and suited for the use you need—whether indoor or outdoor.
  • Keep real trees well-watered. Researchers have found they are less likely to catch fire. When a tree begins dropping needles, it's time to take it to a drop-off site or the curb. Trees that are not watered and dried out can be extremely flammable and result in a fatality more frequently than other home fires.
  • Even artificial trees can be flammable, so make sure yours is identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. Styles with built-in electrical systems also should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Safety should trump holiday decorations when it comes to candles. The top day for residential candle fires is Christmas Day, followed by Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, according to the National Safety Council.
  • If you plan to enjoy a toasty fire, ensure your chimney flue is inspected and cleaned to remove flammable buildup. Keep any flammable items, like wrapped holiday presents and decorations, at least three feet away from the fireplace.

Another way to protect your home at the holidays: consider installing a home security and automation system. Liberty Mutual teamed up with AT&T Digital Life on a special offer when you sign up for AT&T Digital Life Smart Security.* AT&T Digital Life provides 24/7 professionally monitored home security along with an app to easily manage your home remotely from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Learn more.

*Digital Life has limited availability in select markets.


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