The festive season has arrived! While the holidays are a time for joy, they also come with a seemingly endless list of potential mishaps. Anything from a frayed wire to an unstable candle can dampen your festivities. Follow these easy holiday safety tips to help protect your home and family this holiday season.

Holiday Decoration and Fire Safety Tips

There’s no better way to get in the holiday mood than to decorate your house. But while stringing lights and glittering baubles add to the festive cheer, they can pose significant risks. By following a few fire safety tips, you can enjoy the holidays while remaining safe.

Select the Right Tree

Holiday Safety Pick the Right Christmas Tree WIN Home Inspection

Christmas trees are a staple in many homes over the holidays. Whether you prefer a live or artificial tree, make sure you keep fire safety in mind.

  • Live Trees: Check for freshness when buying a live tree as dried-out trees can catch fire quickly. Avoid brittle needles that fall off when you bend them up and down, and keep your tree watered at all times.
  • Artificial Trees: Look for the ‘Fire Resistant’ label on artificial trees.
  • All Trees: Chose your tree placement carefully. Never set up a tree too close to heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources. 

Inspect Smoke Alarms

Before you start decorating your home with lights or preparing a big holiday meal, make sure your smoke alarms are set up and working correctly.

  • Follow manufacture guidelines to test smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed.
  • Replace alarms that are more than 10 years old.
  • For additional safety, you should have smoke alarms on each floor of the house and close to all sleeping areas.

Create a Fire Evacuation Plan

Everyone in your household should know how to get out in case of a fire. When creating your fire evacuation plan, make sure you have clearly identified exits and keep them free of clutter at all times. If you have children, elderly adults, or pets in the home, assign specific people to look out for them as part of your plan.

Conducting mock practice fire drills can also help family members get comfortable and reduce panic in an emergency. 

Inspect Lights for Safety

Inspect Holiday Lights WIN Home Inspection

Carefully examine electrical decorations before using them and consider placement carefully. 

  • Check for loose connections, cracked sockets, or bare wires and replace light strings immediately if they are damaged.
  • Look for empty light sockets and burned out bulbs and replace with new lights.
  • When using lighting outdoors, inspect the labels to ensure the lights have been certified for outdoor usage.
  • To keep lights in place, make use of hooks, not tacks or nails.

Beware of Space Heaters

If you are using space heaters to warm up your home, make sure to take proper safety precautions.

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from electric lights, upholstery, curtains, or anything else likely to catch fire easily.
  • Always turn them off before leaving the room or going to bed.

Be Cautious with Candles and Fireplaces

Holiday Fireplace Safety WIN Home Inspection

Candles and a live fireplace can help set the festive mood, but don't forget to take safety measures. 

  • Place candles on a fire-proof surface and out of reach of children and pets. 
  • Always blow out the lit candles and make sure the fire is out before leaving or going to bed.
  • Have your fireplace professionally inspected and cleaned before you start using it for the season.
  • Use a fire screen to prevent embers from popping out into the surrounding areas.
  • Keep flammable items, like stockings, curtains, and decorations away from any open flame.
  • Avoid burning wrapping paper in the fireplace as it could lead to a flash fire.

Use Caution with Fireworks

If you are planning on celebrating the Near Year with fireworks or crackers, make sure to choose a location away from buildings, trees, or any combustible material. Before you start your celebration, double check you have water or a fire extinguisher handy.

Holiday Kids and Pets Safety Tips

Celebrating with children or pets always requires a few extra precautions. From setting up the Christmas tree to decorating spaces with bulbs and candles, parents need to go the extra mile to ward off potential hazards. Below are our top holiday kids and pets' safety tips on keeping your little ones safe during the festivities.

Holiday Safety for Children and Pets WIN Home Inspection

Choose Gifts With Caution

Not all toys or gifts are safe to have around children or pets. 

  • When buying gifts, pick options that are age-appropriate and do not pose choking hazards.
  • Avoid anything with sharp edges, strings, or strong fragrances.
  • Don’t keep gifts made of glass or other breakable material under a tree where a child or pet could step on it.
  • Dispose of all the wrapping items like ribbon, tape, bows, and gift paper immediately after unwrapping to avoid suffocation risks.

Be Mindful of Decorations

Shiny baubles and strings like tinsel may look tempting to young children and pets as potential items to play with or chew on. 

To help avoid issues, pick larger options that can't be swallowed, and opt for non-breakable materials to decorate your home and tree. 

Avoid Holiday Plants 

Some common holiday plants such as Mistletoe, Amaryllis, Juniper, and Azaleas are actually poisonous to kids and pets alike. Even some so-called non-toxic plants can cause gastrointestinal trouble if ingested. If you are unsure if a plant is safe, skip it altogether and opt for more kid and pet-friendly decorations.

Keep Pets Away From Human Food

Holiday Safety Gingerbread House WIN Home Inspection

Extra sweets and large holiday meals in the home can mean it's time for pets to up their begging game. But calorie-dense food can lead to diarrhea and pancreatic inflammation in pets, and foods like chocolate contain methylxanthine that can cause seizures and gastrointestinal issues in both cats and dogs.

Even if your furry friends try to guilt you into sharing your food this holiday season, it's important to hold your ground. 

Watch Out For the Christmas Tree

Along with the fire safety tips for your Christmas Tree, there are a few additional precautions to take when you have children or pets in the home.

  • Consider anchoring the tree firmly so that it doesn’t fall over.
  • Keep lower branches of the tree free of ornaments that are easy to reach. 
  • Use strings instead of hooks for decorating the tree to reduce risk of sharp edges if an ornament gets into the wrong hands or paws. 

Keep Electrical Wires Away From Children and Pets

Electrical wires should be kept away from children and pets. You can tape wires to walls, floors, or hide them under carpets to keep them out of reach. If you have pets that like to chew on things, you can also purchase taste deterrents or cord protectors to discourage that behavior. 

So that’s a wrap on our safety guide. We hope the aforementioned holiday safety tips will help you avoid accidents and enjoy a truly beautiful holiday. WIN Home Inspection wishes you and your family a fabulous holiday season!