It’s the holiday season and for many homeowners, it’s easy to neglect some of the most basic rules of home safety.
The hustle and bustle of activity this time of year can lead to property damage and injuries that normally can be easily prevented.
Denver-based insurance comparison shopping site InsuranceQuotes and Washington-based research firm Princeton Survey Research Associates International polled 1,000 American adults, asking them to recount the frequency of certain holiday hazards, including injuries to houseguests, weather-related driving accidents and fires caused by everything from cooking mistakes to misadventures with decorations.
According to the study, 16 million Americans have experienced a house fire because of a fryer or cooking accident, and 2 million have had fires caused by Christmas trees and other decorations.
Here are some tips for homeowners to help prevent fanning the flames of fire risk:
1) Use deep fryers safely
While experts agree that it’s objectively safer to deep fry your turkey outside, they also say holiday chefs should make sure it’s set up on level ground at least 30 feet away from the home, trees or any other flammable objects.
“Believe it or not, dry leaves on the ground can serve as natural lighter fluid if there’s a mishap, so make sure to rake beforehand,” says Peter Duncanson, director of system development with the disaster restoration company ServiceMaster Restore.
2) Practice basic electrical safety
One of the main causes of fires this time of year result from electrical hazards like holiday lights, appliances or other devices that overload an extension cord or structural wiring in the home.
It is especially important to inspect your strands of lights for frayed cords and cracked lamps before stringing them up. Also, turn off your lights when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed so you don’t wake up or come home to a fire.
3) Use candles with caution
Candles are traditionally used in many holidays this season, but despite adding a warm and inviting touch to holiday tablescapes, candles can be as damaging as they are delightful, and Bud Summers, vice president of operations for Tamarac, Florida-based property restoration company PuroClean, suggests homeowners proceed with extreme caution when considering the placement of their holiday candles.
“Avoid setting them near curtains, towels, or anywhere they may be knocked over or forgotten about,” Summers says. “Make sure to leave approximately one foot of space between your burning candle and anything else. Be sure that the candle has a stable base and always extinguish the flame before leaving the house or room, or going to bed. When guests leave, designate someone to walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out.”
4) Care for the Christmas tree
When maintained properly, the only harm caused by a Christmas tree is the mess of fallen needles it inevitably leaves behind. But if it’s neglected, homeowners could find themselves with a significant fire hazard perched in the middle of their living room.
Real Christmas trees are more likely to start a fire than artificial ones, especially over time as the tree tends to dry out. And it only takes 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room when a fire is ignited. If you choose to go the natural route, making sure to keep the tree moist and full of water will significantly decrease your chances of unintentional fire.