The winter holiday season is a period filled with festivities, friends and family. Unfortunately, due to extra cooking, decorations and celebrations infused with alcohol, it is also a time when potentially serious hazards are increased.
Save yourself an expensive insurance claim this holiday season by informing yourself of the risks and how to avoid any injury, theft or damage to property.
Tip #1 – Decorate Wisely & Practice Basic Electrical Safety
Planning your Christmas display carefully will help reduce the risk of fires, trips and falls, electrical shocks and damage to your property. Always choose non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. One of the main causes of fires during the holiday season is as a result of an electrical hazard such as Christmas lights or other decorative devices that overload an extension cord in the home.
Ensure that all electrical Christmas decorations have been product tested and are safe to use in your home. It is also of great importance that you inspect all electrical devices for frayed cords or blown fuses before hanging them up in your home. Use of a circuit breaker will also help add to your peace of mind.
Tip #2 – Avoid Christmas Tree Fires
If a fire ignites, it only takes approximately 30 seconds for a dry Christmas tree to engulf a room. There are many potential hazards which could lead to a Christmas tree fire including poor quality lights, candles, overloaded plugs, and dried out Christmas trees.
Christmas tree lights add festive sparkle, however faulty lighting is responsible for almost half of Christmas tree fires. 6% of people leave their Christmas tree lights on throughout December, not choosing to turn them off even once until they are taken down and a further 6% of people leave their Christmas tree lights on overnight each night, putting their home at great risk of fire.
To reduce the possibility of a Christmas tree fire in your home, it is important to turn off all Christmas lights when you are going out or going to bed so that you don’t come home to or wake up to a fire. If you are burning candles ensure that you keep them at a safe distance from your Christmas tree (at least 12 inches). Finally, if you have a real tree for Christmas, ensure it is watered regularly so that it doesn’t dry out and that it is kept at least 3 feet away from all heat sources. These actions will all help make sure that you avoid any Christmas tree fires.
Tip #3 – Protect Your Water Pipes
Typically caused by poor insulation or sudden drops in temperature, nothing will ruin your holiday more than water damage in your home caused by a burst pipe. Even if you live a country where freezing of pipes is uncommon, always properly insulate all of the pipes and the water tank in your home. If the temperature is very cold then leave your heating on a constant 12-15°C, even when you’re away from the property, and try to keep cabinet doors open allowing warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks. You should also run your taps regularly as it’s harder for water to freeze if it’s running.
Tip #4 – Prevent Theft in Your Home & Online
Have you ever seen the movie Home Alone? If so, you should be well aware of the increase in criminal activity during the holiday season. Criminals break-ins tend to rise during December, presumably because many homes are filled with expensive gifts.
It sounds obvious but always keep your windows and doors at home locked. Make sure any valuables are stored away, preferably in a safe and if you don’t already own one, consider purchasing an alarm system.
When shopping online during the holiday season, be sure to only share sensitive payment information such as credit card details with trusted websites, this will help prevent identity thieves and hackers from gaining your personal information. When shopping in stores, be sure to keep your wallet and smartphone securely in a zipped bag or pocket and only take them out when needed.
If you have a trip planned don’t post on social media that you are going away for the holidays. Doing so just gives the go-ahead for any criminals to visit your home knowing that they won’t be disturbed.
Another great tip for preventing theft during the holiday season is to hide any presents, make sure that they are not visible through your windows or doors. Don’t wrap them up and leave them under your Christmas tree in front of your living room window for the whole neighbourhood to see.
Remember: If you acquire new valuables over the holiday season, don’t forget to inform your insurance company so that they can update your home insurance policy and that you have adequate protection.