5e’re entering the holiday season, and all is merry and bright. Right up until you have to file an insurance claim because a potentially preventable homeowners’ disaster crashed the party! Insurance agents see a disproportionate amount of both homeowners and auto claims during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s.
The holiday season is full of risks, but there are precautions you can take to stay safe and still laissez les bons temps rouler!
- If you plan to be away, have someone pick up your mail and newspaper, or put a hold on your services.
- Set up outdoor lights with motion sensors and put indoor lights on staggered timers.
- You may want to install a home security system that you can monitor remotely.
- Don’t hide a spare key outdoors.
- Make sure you have photos of your valuables before leaving town, in case you do have a break-in and need to file a claim.
Weatherize Your Home Before Leaving
If it’s supposed to dip below freezing while you’ll be gone, leave your faucets dripping, your under-the-sink cabinets open, and your heat on.
The holidays are a time of increased fire dangers. Multi-tasking sometimes means cooking while distracted. We use more electrical appliances and overload outlets, leading to an increased risk of electrical fires.
Other hazards include dangling decorations, lots of lit candles, and opportunities for fireplace flames and bonfires to get out of hand. And often, we are too busy to constantly supervise children.
- First off, test your smoke detectors and make sure the batteries are fresh before you get too busy with holiday preparations.
- Secondly, make sure matches and lighters are well out of the reach of children.
- Never leave the kitchen when you have something on the stove or in the oven.
- Keep candles and incense away from dangling flammable items, and make sure they’re someplace where they won’t be knocked over. Never leave candles or fires unattended.
- Ask guests to put out cigarettes and cigars in water.
- Make sure space heaters are three feet away from curtains, blankets and furniture.
- Use a fireplace screen and make sure to extinguish all fires completely. Do not put hot embers in paper or plastic containers.
- Make sure your tree is well away from all heat sources, such as space heaters, radiators, etc. Don’t leave tree lights on when you’re not home and replace any old or fraying strands. If you have a live tree, water it daily.
- With all those holiday events, your household appliances are working around the clock. But don’t leave your washer, dryer or dishwasher on when you’re not home. And don’t forget to clean your lint filter and dryer vent regularly.
Careful With That Turkey Fryer
Frying turkeys is thought to have originated in Louisiana, and we know the (relatively new) tradition is beloved by many Louisianans.
But turkey fryers are involved in an average of $15 million in insurance claims and five deaths a year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. These events are so common that FEMA released a guide to preventing turkey fryer fires.
- To reduce fire risks, thaw the turkey completely before frying. Pat it with a towel to remove excess moisture.
- Always use a fryer in a completely open-air space, such as a driveway or yard. Never use it indoors or in a garage.
- Remember, grease splatters! Keep the fryer 100 feet away from any flammable structures.
- Cover your skin while working with the fryer to prevent burns.
Safety Tips for Guests
If you have guns, make sure they’re in a locked cabinet and there is no way they can fall into the wrong hands. Guns and unattended kids or guns and alcohol are bad combos.
If you host a party and serve alcohol, do not serve minors and refuse to serve anyone who is already impaired. Don’t let anyone who has had too much to drink drive home. If they are involved in a collision, liability could fall on you.
Little hands around? Plug sockets with protectors and secure household cleaners, knives, and other dangerous items if you will have very young visitors.
Block access to dangerous parts of your home—swimming pools, staircases, balconies trampolines, etc.—if you plan to have young guests or guests who will be drinking.
If you’ve had too much to drink at a holiday party, call a cab or a ride-share. There is absolutely no reason to drive under the influence of alcohol or medication.
A higher volume of drivers on the road means you’ll need to drive extra-defensively. Impaired and sleep-deprived travelers are behind the wheel more during the holidays than any other time of year.
If you suspect someone nearby is driving under the influence, have one of your passengers call local authorities to report the danger.