By Jamie Ridenhour

Shopping for that special gift, planning the perfect meal, decorating the home, and everything else that comes with the holidays all vie for our attention during this time of year.  Don’t let all the excitement distract you from paying some attention to safety though. A few good habits and a little extra care can do a lot to help you avoid an issue this holiday.

Last year we covered some tips to help keep you safe when shopping with Holiday Shopping Safety.  This year, we’d like to explore some good habits to keep your home safe for the holidays.

While decorating for the holidays is not an activity fraught with danger, it can create some risk if safety is not considered.  Lights and greenery are holiday traditions that can be rare but pose fire risks under certain circumstances.  Christmas trees still cause an average of 160 house fires each year and candles account for over 8,000!

  • If using a live or freshly cut tree, be sure to keep it well watered. A dry tree is much more of a fire hazard.
  • Keep trees away from heat sources.
  • Discard trees when they become too dry.
  • Only use UL listed lights and electric decorations.
  • Inspect lights and decorations for any damage or loose connections. Discard any that have bare wire showing.
  • Don’t overload circuits with too many lights. If possible, upgrade to modern LED lights that use less power and create far less heat.
  • Use only outdoor rated lights on the outside of your home.
  • When installing lights outside, use a sturdy ladder and don’t overextend your reach.
  • Attach lights with clips rather than nails that can pierce wire insulation.
  • Unplug lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Avoid using real candles. If you do, be sure to leave at least a one foot of clear space on all sides.
  • Never leave candles unattended and keep lighters or matches where children cannot reach them.

Large gatherings for great food are another holiday tradition.  Creating a feast can often be a rather hectic ordeal with a resulting lapse in safety.  Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States.  Nearly 173,000 cooking-related fires occur each year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas accounting for many of them. Keep the following tips in mind to help reduce the risk.

  • Never leave cooking food unattended, especially if an open flame or hot oil is involved.
  • Be sure to fully thaw turkeys before cooking. Placing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator several days in advance is the best way to thaw.  Read the label or consult the internet to determine the necessary thawing time.
  • Digital meat thermometers are an inexpensive way to ensure that food is safely cooked.
  • Never put a frozen turkey in a deep fryer.
  • When frying a turkey, do a trial run with water to determine the level of oil needed. Place the bird in the fry pot and fill with water until just covered.  Take the bird out and note the level of water in the pot to determine the level of oil needed.  Empty and dry the pot before adding oil.
  • Use the fryer outside and as far from the house as possible.
  • Gather any needed tools before starting so you don’t have to leave the fryer unattended.
  • A working smoke detector and charged fire extinguisher should be near the kitchen. The holidays can serve as a good annual reminder to check them.

Don’t let a preventable safety issue dampen your holiday festivities.  A little attention to safety can help ensure that the season remains enjoyable.

Wishing you all Happy and Safe holidays from all of us at DSI Security Services!