Be mindful of these four holiday mishaps to keep you and yours safe and happy through the season.

Although the holiday season is undoubtedly a time of magic and celebration, the change in routine, chilly weather and influx of guests and valuables can turn this season of joy to a time of tragedy in the blink of an eye. Here’s how to keep you and yours safe this holiday season.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 30 percent of all home structure fires occur in the months of November, December and January with nearly 1,000 fires each year caused by Christmas trees and decorations. Luckily, just a few simple tips can keep your home free of holiday fires.

  • Trees, wreaths and boughs: According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas trees are the point of origin for more than 200 fires a year resulting in seven deaths and $17.5 million in property damage. Thankfully, just two tips can help keep your tree fire-resistant. First, don’t let any decorative foliage, including the Christmas tree, dry out. Make sure your Christmas tree is given a fresh cut off the bottom before bringing it in the house, and water it daily once it’s indoors. Remove all greenery out at the first sign of dryness post-Christmas. Second, keep all foliage away from open flames and heat sources includes fireplaces, candles and heaters.
  • Lights: Holiday lights are lovely, but can turn dangerous in the twinkle of a bulb. Be sure to use proper outdoor-graded lights outside and make sure cords for all holiday lights are in good condition. Always turn lights off when you go to sleep or leave home.
  • Open Flames: Candles, fireplaces, Sterno cans and other fire sources can be easy to forget after the party has died down, but it’s incredibly important to extinguish all fires completely before turning in for the night or dashing out to the next soiree.

Fires can happen any time of year. Be sure you and your family have a clear evacuation plan in place and that smoke detectors, windows and fire escapes are in working order.

Brightly wrapped packages don’t just look nice to you, they look enticing to thieves as well. With pricey gift items in your home and vehicles, it’s important to stay vigilant during the holiday season.

  • Keep an eye out: Be aware of your surroundings in parking lots and crowded areas, and keep your wallet and packages close. At home, check in with a trusted neighbor if you plan to be away and be aware of goings-on around their homes as well. Volunteering to pick up mail and newspapers and to turn on lights for one another is a great way to deter thieves.
  • Keep locks locked: Even if you live in a secure, doorman building, no one is immune to theft. Keep doors and windows locked and be mindful of rarely used access points like basement doors and windows. If you have an alarm system, be sure to arm it properly.
  • Out of sight out of mind: When shopping, keep packages in your trunk, not in plain view in the backseat. The same goes for presents at home under the tree. Close drapes or blinds when you’re away from home lest you give thieves a chance to window shop among your Christmas presents.

Unfortunately, a number of the most popular holiday plants and flowers can make humans and pets quite sick if ingested. While poinsettia have a bad reputation as a holiday poisoner, they’re actually only mildly toxic in small quantities. Far more dangerous are most varieties of lilies, holly berries and mistletoe. Wash hands after handling potentially toxic plants and keep them far out of reach of curious kids and pets alike.

Antifreeze, more commonly found around the home in winter, is a top poison risk for pets. As little as five tablespoons can be fatal for a medium-size dog. Keep containers off the floor, away from pets and make sure your radiator is leak free.

Choking can be especially prevalent in the holiday months. Decorative items such as tree ornaments, angel hair and tinsel pose choking risks for pets and kids as do small toy pieces. Be sure to keep small, breakable ornaments further up the tree and be sure that your toy gifts are age appropriate. Keep an eye on kids and pets during the Christmas morning melee when choking hazards are abundant.

Holiday kerfuffle and winter weather combined create a scenario rife with trip, slip and fall perils. Be safe when retrieving items from attics or hanging decorations by using appropriate step stools and properly positioned ladders. Be mindful of icy or snowy walkways around your home, especially if you’re expecting guests. Use pet-safe ice melters to protect puppy paws from burns, and shovel walkways regularly. Wear shoes with lugged soles in the snow and ice, and remove wet shoes before walking on your home’s slick hardwood or tile floors.

The holidays should be a time of peace, happiness and time spent with friends and family. By keeping these common holiday risks at bay, you can be sure to enjoy a safe and joyous season.

Happy holidays!


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