Celebrate Christmas by putting these safety tips into practice!
December 13, 2018 | by BMI Staff
Day 1: Tree Safety
Christmas is meant to be merry, not dangerous! Your holiday cheer is what we’re all about, this time of year.
A family Christmas tree is the focal point of the holiday season, and if you’re as excited about the holidays as we are, you already put yours up!
But did you know that Christmas trees cause $13 million in property damage each year? Combine a dried-out tree with hot lights and nearby heat sources, and you have a disaster in the making. Keep your holiday home safe and sound by following these steps:
- Make fresh a priority over cost. Dry trees may be cheaper, but they hold a far greater risk of catching fire. After you purchase the greenest tree on the lot, don’t forget to keep it that way by providing it with continuous water.
- Cords are ugly, but so is burnt furniture. Rather than running cords under rugs and carpets, place them along the wall. This is the safest location, as it prevents tripping and reduces the risk of fire.
- Check your lights for a safety certification, and make sure they are low energy. If the cords have been damaged or frayed over the years, spring for a new set of lights.
- Give your lights a break to cool down by turning them off before you leave the house or go to sleep. This advice doesn’t have to be restricted to decorations. Get into the habit of unplugging any appliance not in use.
- Have an artificial tree? Make sure it has an approved, flame-resistant seal. If the tree is made of metal, avoid electrocution by never using electric lights.
Make Bob Ross proud, and keep your tree happy!
Day 2: Gift Safety
In order to avoid chaotic department stores and reckless drivers, you may have opted to purchase all of your gifts online, this year. Any day now, the packages will be pouring in. The problem is, you had to pick up extra shifts at work to pay for said gifts and won’t be home to collect them. This is the case for many of us around the holidays, and thieves just so happen to love it.
Having gifts delivered to your doorstep while you’re away leaves them vulnerable to being stolen, but we’re here to help with the following tips:
- If you plan on having packages delivered, consider making the delivery address your office. With how many hours per day we each spend at work, it is more likely you’ll be there when packages are delivered.
- If that isn’t feasible for your schedule, require a signature to be obtained by the deliverer prior to the exchange. This will ensure you are home when gifts are dropped off.
- Finally, shipping companies often utilize drop-off points, such as local businesses with evening hours. Amazon even offers their customers the option to receive packages via an Amazon locker.
Don’t let any grinches steal your carefully chosen gifts, this year!
Day 3: Social Safety
Fast forward to Christmas evening, and you will have just spent an entire day receiving valuable gifts from friends and family. Your next move will determine your post-gift-exchange safety.
- Avoid posting about your gifts to social media.
After unwrapping your new gadgets, you may feel the urge to post all about them on social media. Call it sharing, or maybe even bragging, but thieves consider it targeting. As soon as you go public with the expensive and irreplaceable gifts you are now in possession of, you will be inviting unwanted attention, putting you and your home at risk for attacks.
- Trash carefully.
If one of your gifts was a large, flat-screen television, placing the empty box on the curb for all the world to see might invite trouble. Cut your boxes and remove labels whenever possible. It isn’t necessarily that a burglar will see the box and want your television. Those are large and awkward to make a dash with. Rather, the expensive item lets the burglar know that your household has money and likely other valuable possessions worth stealing.
- Keep your gifts at home.
It was 2010, and I had just received a new purse for Christmas. I loaded it up—I mean to the brim—with every gift and dollar I could squeeze into it before heading to the skating rink with my friends. It wasn’t the smartest move, and the only thing less intelligent was the fact that I left my purse in the backseat of the car (ironically enough, to avoid having it stolen inside). In fact, we all did. Walking back to the car after a couple of hours to find shattered glass in the parking lot was really scary for a handful of teenagers. It did, however, teach us a valuable lesson. Cars in unlit parking lots that are far from the building are a huge target for criminals. So learn from teenage-me, and leave your valuables at home. Even better, keep them hidden from burglars in areas they rarely enter—attics, basements, and children’s bedrooms.
Remember, modest is hottest when it comes to your new possessions (or at least the safest!).
Day 4: Travel Safety
The holidays are a popular time of year for travel, whether to spend time with distant relatives or get away from it all and park on a sunny beach for a week.
If you plan to do any traveling over the holidays, make sure you’re aware of the following safety tips:
- Before you embark on your trip, only tell a necessary few where you are going and for how long. Posting about vacations on social media will only increase the number of people who know when your house will be vacant.
- Winter weather and long roadtrips don’t always mix well. Make sure your family is prepared with a winter survival kit.
- Make sure your car is running properly and does not require any repairs. Check the oil, and get a diagnostic if the check engine light is on. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than never getting to arrive there.
- Store your roadside assistance number in your phone. For BMI insureds, you can reach our roadside assistance company (included in every auto policy) at 866-437-9274. See everything our roadside assistance package includes, here.
Travel smarter, not harder.
Day 5: Decorating Safety
Whether you surprise your loved ones with a house-full of warm and inviting decorations or put them up as a family, make sure everyone is safe and sound when filling your home with holiday cheer!
The biggest risk that accompanies decorating for the holidays is falling down. It’s tempting to use living room furniture as a stepping stool to reach those heights, but furniture can often cause imbalance or collapse under weight it wasn’t built to support. Follow these tips for a safe and successful decorating session:
- Use a ladder. This tip applies to both indoors and outdoors. Step stools and folding ladders can be used without being propped up against the wall, and they are built solely to support you while your mind is on the decorations in your hand!
- When stringing lights or decorating up high outdoors, keep your ladder away from power lines, and always make sure the top of the ladder makes contact with something sturdy.
- Make holiday decorating a sober activity for everyone involved. Spiking the eggnog might seem like the best way to turn any activity into a party, but it is also the easiest way to go from holiday cheer to ER waiting room.
Now that you’ve read these tips, the scariest part might only be fighting off the cobwebs to get to those dusty boxes. Happy decorating!
Day 6: Pet Safety
Do you have a holiday party coming up? Have you added pet care to your to-do list? Between shopping for decorations and cleaning the house, it’s easy to let our little fur babies slip through the cracks.
How can you make sure your pet stays safe when all those guests arrive?
- You know your animal’s rules regarding table food, but do your guests? Make sure your guests know what foods are off-limits to animals, and keep an eye on children when the food is served.
- Pet owners often offer a hearty turkey bone to their dogs after dinner has finished, but did you know that bones can easily splinter and puncture your pup’s esophagus and stomach? Consider purchasing a pet-safe bone if you don’t want your dog to feel left out of the festivities!
- With all of the uncommon commotion of multiple guests, your pet may become easily spooked. Jumpy pets and lit candles don’t mix well. Consider switching to flameless candles and other scented decorations for your event.
- Offer your pet a place to escape the commotion, should they become overwhelmed. This could be an empty bedroom, a crate, or a kennel—anywhere they typically find comfort.
Day 7: Food Prep Safety
If you’re hosting or attending a large holiday dinner this year, you’ll likely have a hand in preparing a dish or two (literally). Make sure you don’t accidentally sour the evening with unsafe food-prep practices.
Keep your food and your position as “Family Chef” intact with these tips:
- Wash your hands frequently, and make sure you keep scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. (Feel free to call in backup to stir the mashed potatoes while you wash!)
- You might know which family members have food allergies, but what about the inevitable unexpected guest or two? Make sure you inform everyone at the table of the obscure ingredients you use in your famous stuffing before passing the platter.
- Brush up on the “danger zone” temperatures, and make sure you stay in the clear, whether in heating up or cooling down your dishes.
Follow these tips, and you’ll only be serving up smiles, this Christmas!
Day 8: Child Safety
Holidays are the most fun when you’re a kid, but unfortunately, the vulnerability level is never higher. It’s hard to imagine your child won’t be safe at your family’s Christmas celebration, but it’s easy to lose track of a child’s activities when so many extended family members are thrown into the mix.
Take a look at these tips to keep your kiddos safe and sound, this Christmas:
- Distracted drivers are more numerous than ever during the holidays. Commutes quickly become ways to think through wish lists and appointments, and staying focused on the road takes a backseat. When the adults are busy in the kitchen or tending to guests, it’s common for kids to play outside. Make sure you discuss the rules of the play space with your kids to keep them away from the road, and check often to make sure those rules are being followed.
- When bringing young children to a family function, do a quick sweep to make sure breakable or hazardous decorations are out of arm’s reach. If you do find something that poses a threat to small hands, politely ask the host if it may be moved to a higher location. If that person doesn’t have small children, he or she may never have even thought of the potential risks.
- Finally, rideable gifts such as bikes and scooters are very popular this time of year. Make sure to include safety gear, such as helmets and pads, with these types of gifts. The last thing a child will want to do is wait for the appropriate gear to be provided before they go out and play!
Day 9: Handling Holiday Stress
One of the largest holidays of the year is quickly approaching, but instead of focusing on the joy, you can’t stop thinking about your to-do list. With the obligations piling on, it probably seems impossible to focus on self care. The important thing to remember is that your loved ones will only enjoy the holidays if you do, so take some time to decompress and focus on the joy, this holiday season.
- It’s okay to say no.
The holidays are a busy time for us all. It is easy to get caught up in pleasing others and to RSVP “yes” to more events than we have time for. This year, choose your happiness and your mental health over the desire to please everyone. Your family and friends will understand if you need time to prepare for the season.
In the season of constant holiday parties, gift exchanges, and family get-togethers, it is easy to be attached to our phones to make sure we are staying in the loop. Sometimes we are so busy planning, we forget to live in the moment and simply enjoy. Schedule some time to put the phone away and enjoy the holidays, unplugged.
- Have fun!
When you’re down to the wire and feel like you have way too many responsibilities than you can handle, don’t prioritize your stress over your sleep. Staying well rested will protect you from sleep-deprivation and frantic behavior. Ultimately, prioritize your own joy over some of your responsibilities. It’s your holiday, too, after all!
Day 10: Holiday Party Safety
Throwing together a successful get-together for such a major holiday can be STRESSFUL, but the last ball you want to drop is guest safety. A clean house, fancy hors d’oeuvres, and perfect decorations are a nice touch—but keeping your guests out of harm’s way should take priority.
- Protect your home against mischief.
Make sure you know everyone coming through the front door. Two of the hardest qualities for people-pleasing party throwers to balance are being firm and being fun. Remember that you have graciously offered up your home for the festivities, so you should have the final say on what happens within it. If you’re not comfortable with confrontation, there will likely be a good friend or two in your midst who would be willing to defend your party from any potential danger.
- Let your guests know what kind of gathering you’re expecting.
An invited guest may find it harmless to bring 10 of her closest friends, while you were operating on an invite-only basis. Setting the expectation ahead of time reduces that ambiguity.
- Clear a path.
Remove any snow and ice from your driveway and sidewalk to avoid slips.
- Get insured!
Looking to protect your home and yourself from potential disasters? Call a BMI agent and get a quote on your home, today.
Day 11: Fire Safety
Fire hazards become much more common around the holidays. From decorations to candles to Christmas dinner, kindling for an accident is all around us. Make sure to take the following precautions to avoid an unwanted fire:
- Turn off the lights.
Prior to bed and leaving the house, make sure all lights (including the ones on the tree) are turned off. Consider purchasing a timer so you’ll never forget to manually unplug everything.
- Keep your mind on the stove.
Cooking fires are the most common during the holidays, and the biggest reason for this is unattended food. If you need to leave an item on the stove, take a potholder with you as a reminder that something is cooking. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and check your smoke detectors prior to the festivities.
- Mind what you burn:
While Christmas tree branches and gift wrap may be flammable, avoid throwing them in the fireplace. Christmas tree branches burn extremely hot, which could quickly become disastrous and damaging to your fireplace. Additionally, the ink from colored wrapping paper contains metals that can emit toxic fumes when burned.