Home Safety During the Holiday Season

Jun 5, 2021 | From The CEO, Personal Insurance

The holiday season is always the most lively time of the year, along with being a major part of the year. Once fall has come to pass, it begins the countdown to the start of another year. One can surmise that the holiday has begun by the constant onslaught of Christmas songs everywhere. Though the holiday season is meant to be the time for people to take it easy, this does not mean that they should neglect their safety or the safety of their home. The holidays prove to be trying and dangerous for one and their households. 

Countless disasters occur for people around the world, making it a not so uncommon sight. But during the holiday season, the number of these disasters skyrocketed. May it be an accident or someone hitting the tequila a little early, there are many ways for disasters to occur. These disasters are uncontrollable; thus, it is best to prevent these before they start. Disasters come in many different forms, from the smallest house fire to a large tornado, one must be prepared to face the toughest of circumstances. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 400 homes suffer yearly due to the effects of events related to Christmas tree fires. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Commission, more than 12,900 people annually are treated in hospitals and emergency rooms for injuries that include those such as falls, cuts, and shocks that are related to holiday lights, decorations, or Christmas trees. Between the years 2016 and 2019, there has been an annual average of four (4) deaths and around 18 million dollars worth of property damage that can be associated with Christmas tree fires. During the same period of time, the CPSC or the Consumer Products Safety Council had received reports of nearly one hundred and thirty (30) lives lost and 260 million in property loss that could be associated with candle fires. One must be careful, especially during the holiday season.

In the spirit of keeping the season jolly, along with keeping one’s self and home safe, here are a few reminders to help keep the safety within one’s home during the holiday season. 

Up first are the safety precautions to safeguard the tree. The Christmas tree is a symbol that is synonymous with the notion of the holiday season. A massive pine tree in the middle of a mall screams that the holiday season has come. The use of plants that remained green throughout the year, or evergreens, held special meaning to people during the winter season. In a similar manner to today’s use of evergreen plants for winter celebrations, the people of the ancient world also used evergreens in a special manner, as a way to keep the forces of evil such as ghosts, witches, and illnesses at bay. Evergreens played a big role in the beliefs and religions of the ancient people. It is believed that during the winter solstice, evergreens signified to the people that their sun god had recovered from their illness and shall rise again to bring the green back into the leaves of the plants. Evergreens appeared in various religions, one of which was in Norse mythology, where it is believed that the god Baldr (also Balder or Baldur) was the god of light, joy, purity, and the sun, using the evergreen as his symbol. It is to be noted, however, that the god Baldr was killed with an evergreen, a testament to how dangerous some things could be if left unchecked. Legend has it, that one day the god Baldr dreamt that he would die. In response, his mother, the goddess Frigg, took it upon herself that nothing could kill her beloved son. She made everything in the 9 worlds swear that they won’t kill her son Baldr. Everything, except mistletoe. And so contests were held by the gods to randomly try to kill Baldr, and everyone failed. That is, until Loki, the trickster god created a spear made out of mistletoe, the only thing that can hurt Baldr, and gave it to Baldr’s blind brother Höđr who was attempting to join the festivities of attempting to kill Baldr. Needless to say, Höđr accidentally killed Baldr with one of his own symbols, an evergreen. Along with Norse mythology, ancient Romans also used evergreens for their festival to Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, during his festival during the winter solstice called Saturnalia. 

According to history.com, Germany is credited with starting the tradition of using Christmas trees when devout Christians would bring decorated trees into their homes. Though widely done nowadays, it is very dangerous to have a tree inside one’s house. So here are some tips to keep one’s self and home safe along with preventing a catastrophe caused by something concerning the tree.

  1. Keep the Christmas tree fresh. This includes watering it regularly and giving it enough sunlight.
  2. Keep trees away from heat sources. It is best to keep the tree away from the fireplace or from the kitchen.
  3. Take the Christmas tree down before January. Once Christmas is over, one now prepares for the new year, meaning that Christmas is already over.
  4. Do not burn the trees in your place. Not only is this unsafe for one’s home, but it is also bad for the environment. 
  5. Avoid placing easily breakable ornaments, or those with detachable parts on lower branches of the tree where children or pets could reach it.
  6. If one intends to purchase an artificial Christmas tree, look for a label that classifies the tree as “Fire Resistant.”

Should one’s tree be the cause of a house fire, one should be prepared for this with homeowner’s insurance. This helpful form of insurance allows the homeowner to be compensated should an accident occur too, within, or to the items within the home. This is a great way to recover should an accident occur.

Next up to bat with regards to having safety precautions are the lights. According to history.com, the first person to put lighted candles on a Christmas tree was Martin Luther, the person behind the Protestant reformation. As one would expect, though this is a beautiful addition, and though, according to John Hanssen, it signified “the light of Jesus,” it was also a very dangerous addition to the Christmas tree. The sentiment was nice, but one should be careful with placing decorative light sources near the tree since it could lead to a house fire.

Just like the case with the tree, should a house fire occur due to the use of Christmas lights, it is best to be prepared for the situation with homeowner’s insurance to receive some sort of compensation to recover from the accident, should it occur.

Here are some safety tips with regards to the use of Christmas or any decorative lights.

  1. One must use lights that have been tested for safety only by a recognized testing laboratory.
  2. Do not string together more lights than those recommended by the manufacturer. Doing so might lead to an electrical overload and lead to a house fire.
  3. Make sure that the extension cords to be used are rated for their intended use.
  4. One must check the labels of the lights that are intended to be used outdoors to ensure that it has been certified for outdoor use.
  5. Turn off all the holiday lights before one intends to go to bed or one intends to leave the house. Failing to do so may lead to an electrical overload and might cause a house fire.
  6. If one is using a timer for their outdoor lights, they must first make sure if it is rated for outdoor use. 
  7. If one is using outdoor lights and/or decorations, make sure that they are plugged into circuits that are protected by GFCIs or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.

Lastly, precautionary measures should be taken during one’s use of a ladder. Countless injuries are caused by falling off of ladders. From the smallest scrape to broken or dislocated bones, one must be wary when using one of these tools. 

Here are some safety tips with regards to the use of ladders.

  1. Whenever one intends to put up their holiday decorations, always use an appropriate step stool or ladder in order to reach the high places. Do not stand on chairs, desks, and other such furniture. Doing so might lead to serious injury, or at worst, loss of life. 
  2. For every four (4) feet (1.22 meters) of ladder height, the straight or extension ladder should be placed one (1) foot (0.30 meters) away from the surface that it rests on.
  3. Use ladders that have slip-resistant feet. This allows for the ladder to remain in place for a long time and be less prone to moving due to friction. 
  4. Never stand on the two top-most steps. This poses a high risk of falling off the ladder and causing serious harm. 

Should one succumb to an injury from using a ladder, it is important to have health insurance. Not only is it useful for situations such as this, but it also allows for coverage of a variety of different medical expenses.

During the holidays, accidents do not cease. It is most important to keep one’s self and home safe during these jolly times. Safety should always be one’s number one priority.

Contact us at Advantage Insurance Solutions for more information!