Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season


Cooking, candles, decorations, and travel – the parts that make the holiday season memorable are also the parts that require extra attention for safety. Each   year, nearly 156,000 fires in the United States occur during the winter holiday season, and about 5,800 individuals are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained from falls involving holiday decorations. To increase the odds that your celebrations or time away from your home doesn’t lead to any unplanned problems, consider these holiday safety tips.


  • Never leave cooking food unattended. The most common cause of cooking fires is leaving the stove (or fryer) unattended.
  • Fry with care. Deep-fried turkeys have grown in popularity in recent years, but frying is much riskier than roasting (52 percent of home cooking fires are ignited by fat, grease, or oil). If you go the deep-fry route, read up on ways to avoid turkey fryer fires.
  • Read food labels. Warning your guests (and avoiding known allergens) can prevent dangerous allergic reactions, so read ingredient lists for common allergens when you’re using new ingredients or cooking for a large group.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer. Under-cooked meat can cause food poisoning. If you’re cooking meat this holiday season – especially if it’s a large animal like a turkey – use a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.


  • Use sturdy holders for lit candles, and place them on sturdy surfaces. Holders that are too light or improperly weighted increase the chances of a lit candle toppling and igniting fuel nearby.
  • Leave a clear 12 inches on every side of the flame. With plenty of clearance, it’s less likely that flammable material will blow into the flame or that the flame will catch something nearby on fire.
  • Don’t leave candles alone. As with cooking, don’t leave a burning candle unattended. Never leave kids in a room alone with a burning candle.
  • Consider fake candles. Flameless candle technology has come a long way in recent years. Many fake candles offer the same cozy, flickering light as the real thing – with none of the risk.


  • Install a security system. Nobody wants to come home to a burgled house. Installing a security system – especially a smart system that sends you real-time updates or alerts a central monitor – can help deter would-be thieves and ensure that any attempted burglary is addressed as soon as possible.
  • Hire a shoveling service, if necessary. If you live in an area where it snows a lot, consider hiring a shoveling service while you’re away. This ensures that you’ll be able to park when you get home and that you’re not signaling your awayness loud and clear to potential burglars.
  • Install smart sensors on your water pipes. These smart-home systems can prevent water damage by sensing unusual water activity (such as what would occur if a pipe froze and burst) and automatically shutting off your water when it happens. When you’re not around to turn off the water manually, a smart sensor can offer major benefits.


  • Pay attention to your wires. Forty percent of Christmas tree fires happen because of problems with electrical distribution or lighting equipment. If you’re not sure what counts as “too much,” read and follow the instructions on your lighting equipment.
  • Keep trees away from heat sources. About a quarter of tree fires happen because the tree is too close to a heat source (fireplace, space heater, radiator, etc.). When you choose the perfect place for your tree, make sure it’s clear of things that get hot.
  • Consider going fake. Fires aren’t the only risk Christmas trees present: they also cause allergic reactions in many people. As with candles, artificial trees can reduce your fire risk and save the sinuses of some of your loved ones.


  • Check your smoke detectors. Replace dead batteries and hook up disconnected batteries.
  • Pick safe holiday decor. Choose flame-resistant or flame-retardant decorations. Some lights are meant only for indoor use, some only for outdoor. Follow
    directions on the box.
  • Use clips, not nails, to secure lights. This prevents damage to the cords, which can spark fires.
  • Use fireworks with care.

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