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Home Inspector Home Safety Tips

Holiday Home Safety Tips




The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. To make your Holiday season safer and more enjoyable, please consider the following safety tips:


Holiday Lighting


  • Use caution when decorating for the holidays, whenever possible, use decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.


  • Be sure to keep candles away from decorations, curtains and other flammable materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees. No matter what type of tree. Besides the fact trees can burn, they also can tip over easily and start a fire.


  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings. Light strings are very inexpensive and should be replaced if there is any doubt as to their safety. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask us during your next maintenance inspection. Do not overload extension cords.


  • Do not mount lights in any way that can damage the insulation covering the wire. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, don't use nails or tacks. Do not drive staples to far in or the insulation may become damaged. Wires should be just held in place with the ability to move slightly. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.


  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations. Make sure children and pets can not pull or chew on any electrical decorations or light strings.


  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from damaged light strings, and a person touching a branch could receive an electric shock. Remember it only takes 40 milliamps to stop a persons heart.


  • Before using lights outside, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Not all light strings are rated for outdoor use. When installing outdoor lights, be sure to plug them into a GFCI protected outlet.


  • When inspecting your light strings, make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. When in doubt, replace the light string.


  • Do not leave lights or electrical decorations on when you are not going to be home. The wiring used in the construction of decorations is not of a very high quality, and can fail and cause a fire very easily.




  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.


  • If small children and pets are in the home, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children and pets. Keep in mind that pets, especially cats love tinsel, if tinsel is swallowed it can cause severe intestinal problems.


  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child or pets to put them in their mouth.


Holiday Entertaining


  • Cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range. Also be aware that small children can be curious about holiday treats being prepared in the kitchen and can receive serious burns if not closely monitored.


  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Be sure that cigarette butts are completely out before being placed in the trash.


  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet). Use lighters that have child safety locks.


  • Replace the batteries and test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.




  • If you purchase a live tree, check it for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. Make sure you keep plenty of water in the tree stand.


  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic so it is not easily knocked over. Do not block doorways. If you purchased a fresh tree, make a fresh cut about an inch from the end to help it draw in water.




  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open. Set the damper correctly.


  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals and toxins that can cause severe intestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.


  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. Loose papers, like wrapping papers can ignite suddenly into a flash fire and burn out of control.



Toys and Ornaments


  • When shopping for toys, make note of the recommended age on the package. Toys for older children many times have small parts or other items that may hazardous for younger children.


  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children or accessible to pets.


  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint or can be easily broken out of the reach of small children and pets.


Children and Pets


  • Be aware of certain plants. Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.


  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.


  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke. Many times pets find ribbons interesting and could try and eat them.


  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended, they could get seriously burned or accidentally start a fire.


  • Store scissors and any other sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.


  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards and could be fatal to pets.


  • When storing any items that you want kept away children, pay close attention that they do not know where you hid them. Children will try and climb to get something they want if they know its there.




  • Use your home burglar alarm system. Many people own an alarm system and never take the time to use it. If it is not functioning correctly, consider having it repaired. Burglars like to break into homes around the holidays because they know a lot of new items are present.


  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Make sure your mail is collected regularly and have some lights turn on and off at random times.







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