Between travel, gift giving, decorating and shopping, the holiday season is a busy one for many people across the country. The hustle and bustle means people may neglect the little things that keep our homes safe.
Here are a few simple holiday safety tips to help ensure a happy holiday season for your family.
Home Security Tips
Keeping your home secure is a necessity year-round, but it’s especially important during the holidays when reports of crimes like robberies increase by approximately 20 percent*. If you’re traveling and spending time away from the house, here are a few ways to protect your home:
- Invest in Your Home Insurance: Home insurance policies protect you from unexpected repair costs, liability issues and other types of damage. While you likely already have a policy in place, your coverage needs can change over time. Before the holidays are in full swing, review your insurance coverage and discuss your current needs with your insurance agent.
- Install a Security System: Installing a security system is a holiday safety tip that can deliver benefits all year long. Once you take care of the installation, notify your independent insurance agent of the improvements. They may be able to save you money this holiday season by lowering your home insurance premium once the system is in place.
- Let Your Neighbors Know Your Travel Plans: Let your neighbors know when you’ll be away and when to expect your return. They can watch for suspicious activity and check your door for any deliveries made while you are away.
- Review Your Insurance Policy after the Holidays: Make sure all of your shiny new toys and large items received over the holidays are covered and protected going into the new year. Your independent insurance agent can review your policy with you and let you know if any extra protection may be needed.
Home Maintenance Tips
Securing your home is just one part of keeping it safe during the holiday season. Before you settle in with cocoa and a cozy fire, try these home holiday safety tips to ensure your family and belongings are protected:
- Never Leave Burning Candles Unattended: Open flames are beautiful, but they can be dangerous when left unattended. If you’re leaving the house, make sure you blow out all candles. A safer alternative for the cozy ambiance without the fire risk are flameless or battery-operated candles.
- Have Your Chimney Cleaned: Not many things give off more warm fuzzy holiday feelings than cuddling up by a fire. Unfortunately, build up from last season isn’t noticeable to the eye and can be very dangerous. Having your chimney professionally cleaned before the season begins is an easy way to reduce your risk and prevent chimney fires.
- Practice Ladder Safety: Holiday lights are beautiful, but not worth an injury. Always inspect your ladder prior to climbing and do not use a broken or unsafe ladder.
- Keep Your Driveway Cleared: As a homeowner, you’re responsible for keeping others safe anytime they’re on your property. Prevent accidents by keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear of ice and snow.
Electrical Safety Suggestions
Enjoy your holiday decorations and keep your home safe by avoiding electrical hazards. Consider these electrical safety tips for the holidays:
- Don’t Overload Your Outlets: The electrical outlets in your house can only handle so much demand before shorting out or sparking a fire. Electrical safety regulations suggest keeping the burden on a circuit below 80 percent of its amperage rating**. For example, 16-amps of power for a 20-amp breaker.
- Use the Right Types of Lights: Believe it or not, holiday lights aren’t all the same. Some are rated for indoor use only, and others are rated for indoor/outdoor use. If you’re planning on hanging lights outside your house, make sure they’re rated for outdoor use. This will reduce the risk of shocks or a fire.
- Turn Electrical Decorations Off: Many people leave their electrical decorations on 24/7. To keep your home safe, turn off electrical decorations before you leave home or before going to bed.
- Inspect Holiday Lights: Holiday lights can make your home look and feel festive, but they need to be in good condition. Inspect the wires and connections on each strand you’re hanging. If you notice any wear or exposed wires, replace them as soon as possible.
Shop Online Securely
Shopping online makes buying gifts for your loved ones easier and helps us avoid the crowds. But it can also increase your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and cybercrime. Be safe and follow these holiday online safety tips:
- Shop With Known Retailers: The best way to keep your personal information safe when shopping online is to only buy from retailers you know and can trust. Download official retailer apps from app stores like the Apple App Store, Google Play and Galaxy Apps. Avoid clicking on social media links to apps that could contain malicious software.
- Use a Secure Wi-Fi Network: Public Wi-Fi networks may be convenient, but they’re not secure and can leave your personal information vulnerable. Instead, only use a secure, password-protected network like the one you have at home. If you need to use Wi-Fi on the go, turn your phone into a password-protected hotspot.
- Invest in Identity Theft Protection: There’s no way to completely avoid identity theft, but you can protect yourself from financial loss if your devices get hacked. Talk to your independent insurance agent about cyberthreat and identity theft protection to help cover legal costs as you restore your credit.
Risk-Free Holiday Decorating
We all love a dose of holiday cheer, but did you know there are ways to make decorating a little safer? Follow these holiday decorating safety tips to protect your home, family and property.
- Hire a Professional: Some companies offer decorating services that can make hanging lights safer and easier for you. Consider hiring a licensed and bonded professional to handle your outdoor holiday lighting.
- Choose the Right Tree: Artificial trees are great alternatives to living pines, but you’ll want to choose one that has a fire-resistant stamp or label on the box. These trees are designed to withstand high temperatures generated by holiday lights without sparking or going up in flames. For real trees, it’s important to frequently water the tree and to clean up any fallen pine needles.
Road Trip Tips
Holiday travel often means long road trips, traffic and busy highways that pose a risk to your vehicle. These holiday travel safety tips can make your drive more secure:
- Review Your Auto Insurance Policy: Comprehensive coverage is a must if you’re traveling during the holidays. Review your auto coverage with your insurance agent and make sure you’re fully protected against the types of hazards you may encounter.
- Take Regular Breaks: When you’re trying to get to your destination quickly, it’s tempting to just keep driving. Don’t. Take regular breaks throughout the day and don’t push yourself to drive when you’re exhausted.