The holiday season is upon us, and in the words of singer Andy Williams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” But this most joyous of seasons is also host to potential dangers. Take heed of our holiday safety tips, and your chances of outliving your term life insurance policy will multiply like gifts on a child’s Santa list!
The Holiday Lights
‘Tis the season to channel your inner Clark Griswold. And if your exterior illumination skills aren’t quite up to par with Sparky’s, follow these tips to keep yourself safe and your house intact.
1. Finish all prep work before the bad weather hits. Before the snow starts to fall is the best time to install the hooks on your gutters and eaves, layout your extension cords and plan circuit loads. You can also dig any holes needed for yard decorations before the ground is frozen.
2. Next, measure your light strands and inspect them for broken bulbs or blown fuses. Make all necessary repairs before you start to hang the lights. Be sure you follow the product directions when connecting strands together. Putting too many strands together can create an electrical hazard.
3. Once your lights are ready, set up any ladders you plan to use. Ladder safety is critical, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 91,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year from ladder accidents. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t one of them:
- Clean your shoes of any snow, ice, water or mud before climbing the ladder.
- Climb facing the ladder.
- Keep your hands free. Use a belt or pack for tools.
- Only allow one person on the ladder at a time.
Make sure your ladders are in good repair. Place the ladders on solid ground avoiding any ice or snow. Clear a path if you have to. If you are using an extension ladder, you’ll want to extend the ladder high enough so that you can lean it against the eaves of the house. Try to avoid leaning the ladder against the rain gutter if possible.
The Christmas Tree
Ahhh — The perfect tree.
Whether you decide to go artificial, be one of those people who are (as Clark would say) ‘satisfied with a scrawny, dead, overpriced tree with no special meaning’ or pull yours straight from the ground, you should be aware of a few basic safety tips.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments responded to an average of 230 holiday tree-related house fires per year from 2006 – 2010. While somewhat uncommon, these fires tend to be more serious, with one of every 66 resulting in at least one death. Here’s how you can help prevent a fire from occurring:
- WATER! Crispy trees are more susceptible to fires. Check and refill water levels daily. Newly cut trees will take in more water than older ones, especially within the first few days.
- Maintain your lights. Check all light strands for broken bulbs, blown fuses, worn or damaged insulation and exposed wires. Replace all damaged strands.
- Keep your tree away from all external heat sources like fireplaces and space heaters. 18 percent of all Christmas tree-related house fires are caused by heat sources being too close to the tree.
- Use an appropriately sized tree mount. An undersized mount could cause the tree to tip over and result in bodily injury or damage to furniture and other items.
And, of Course — Holiday Shopping
The holiday season is also a criminal’s favorite time of the year. Home and vehicle burglaries, thefts and other crimes increase as unwitting shoppers haul around their newly purchased gifts from the mall to car and car to the house. Stay safe and protect your valuables with these tips:
- Stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid dark or deserted places such as parking garages or alleys.
- Shop with friends or family. There is safety in numbers — and the more, the merrier!
- Carry your packages with you. Do not bring them to your vehicle then go back into the mall or store. If you must store them in your car, place them in the trunk or out of view.
- Keep a close eye on your purse or wallet. Packed stores and malls are like heaven for pickpockets. Carry only the amount of cash you need. Use credit or debit cards if possible.
- At home, keep all windows and doors locked. Keep curtains and blinds closed, making it more difficult for someone to see under your tree.
- Make sure package delivery services do not leave packages on your doorstep when you are not home.
- Avoid putting that huge box from your new 70″ LCD HDTV on your curb for garbage pickup. That’s an excellent way to advertise to thieves.
These few, simple tips can go a long way toward keeping you and yours safe this holiday season. We hope they will help you outlive your term life insurance and possibly even prevent an unannounced visit from your family’s version of Clark’s cousin Eddie!