Preparing your home for the holidays often includes stringing lights, hanging greenery, lots of cooking and turning up your furnace. Though holiday décor and festivities bring joy to the holiday season, they also bring fire hazards and personal safety issues.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, house fires are most prominent in the month of December. The occurrence of cooking fires triple on Thanksgiving Day and approximately 12,500 people end up in emergency rooms each year with decorating-related injuries, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Here are some tips to keep your family and home from holiday fire and injury.
1. Be cautious of cheap lights and cords
Before stringing up lights on your Christmas tree or roof, check all electrical and extension cords. Discard any that are frayed or cracked. Don’t try to refurbish with electrical tape. When shopping for extension cords, look for a certification mark from an accredited organization like CSA International, UL or ELT to ensure the products were produced up to code.
2. Use cool tree lights
“Cool” as in LED lights. They use up to 90 percent less energy than regular holiday lights and they don’t produce heat build-up like regular bulbs do. Because they use less electrical current, they are also safe to string together multiple strands.
3. Check your furnace
Have a professional perform a maintenance check on your furnace and venting system to prevent carbon monoxide hazards. Cleaning and/or replacing your furnace filter should also be a regular occurrence during heating season. Winter is also a great time to double-check function of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; batteries should be replaced every six months in these devices.
4. Clean appliances
Cooking accidents are the leading cause of house fires. Make sure you clean appliances that have any grease build-up, which could ignite a spark in a busy kitchen. Cleaning dust build-up from dyer hoses and lint from the dryer itself also cuts down on fire risk.
5. Lights out
Always turn off holiday lights when leaving the house for long periods of time or going to bed. Putting lights on timers is also helpful in deterring thieves. If you’re leaving town for the holidays, ask a neighbor to shovel and pick up your mail. Avoid displaying gifts in windows and make sure you lock up.
Compass Mortgage hopes you have a safe holiday season!
If you are looking for more information on the home buying and mortgage process, refer to the ultimate first-time homebuyers' guide, our Mortgage 101 Handbook.