Dec 4, 2023
Your ultimate guide to a merry and safe holiday season
As you wrap things up at work, decorate your home, navigate winter driving, and shop for the perfect gifts, it is essential to consider holiday safety during these busy times.
According to emergency physicians, some of the most common accidents this time of year include broken or fractured bones, falling off ladders or roofs, and car accidents (especially parking lot accidents).
To ensure you have a happy and safe season, we have compiled a collection of winter holiday safety tips.
Preparing your home for a safe Christmas
The holiday season is a time for celebration with friends and family. This means more food, decorations, hosting, and a need to be extra cautious around the house. Here are some tips to help you safely prepare your home for Christmas:
- Keep your driveway and walkways clear: When it snows, clear your driveway and walkways of snow and ice. Your guests and delivery people will appreciate it.
- Holiday plants and pets do not mix: Make sure you keep your pets away from poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and real Christmas trees as they can be toxic.
- Reduce clutter: Gifts, guests, decorations, and winter clothes can create hazards. Try to reduce the clutter before the holiday season or confine it to a specific area of your home.
- Be diligent with home security: Unfortunately, the holiday season sees an increase in break-ins and homeowners theft. It is important always to lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock windows, and make a note of strangers in your neighbourhood. Consider getting jewellery insurance so if anything happens you can have it insured.
Electrical safety tips for the holidays
You will likely install special lighting and decorations over the holidays. Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Christmas light safety tips
- Choose the right light – only use indoor lights inside and use lights that are designed for outside.
- Never exceed the recommended wattage.
- Replace damaged cords, plugs, and ornaments.
- Buy decorations that have a CSA recognized safety approval mark. You should be able to see the approval sticker on the cord of the light strings.
Extension cords and plugs
- Don’t overload cords or outlets by plugging in too many decorations – it can create overheating or blow the circuit.
- Never remove the third prong on plugs; this is the grounding pin and prevents shock in case of electrical equipment failure.
- Don’t run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or in places where furniture may damage them.
- Keep outdoor connections above ground, away from water, and plug into a ground fault-protected outlets.
Home fire safety tips for the holidays
Whether you are keeping warm by the fire or lighting your favourite candles to create the perfect ambiance, fire safety is a hot holiday topic.
- Use the fireplace with care : Whether you have a natural or gas fireplace, it is a source of heat and potential danger. Keep kids and pets away, be careful when placing decorations, and always make sure the fire is out before going to bed or leaving the house. Be sure to check if your fire insurance is up to date.
- Use candles safely: Place them in low-traffic areas and away from flammable materials. More than one-fifth (22%) of Christmas tree fires start because of a heat source, such as a candle or equipment being too close. When you leave the house or the room, always blow out candles; candles should always be burning in sight and away from flammable items.
- Check your safety alarms: Check your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
- Keep matches and lights out of reach: We often leave these items lying around the house, but be sure to keep them away from children.
- Consider going flameless: Pick up flameless (LED) candles instead of open-flame ones.
How can a Christmas tree be a fire hazard?
A Christmas tree can be a fire hazard, especially once the needles dry out. Keep your tree well-watered and avoid keeping live trees longer than four weeks. Keep away from any sources of heat.
Tips for safe holiday decorating
Decorating and hosting are fun but can pose risks. On average, about 200 decorating-related injuries occur daily during the holiday season; about half of the incidents involve falls. During the 2018 holiday season, about 17,500 people have been treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries.
As you decorate your home for the holidays, watch for common holiday hazards and safety slip-ups. Use these tips:
- Put safety first : We know you want your decorations to look great. But do not sacrifice safety to do it. Ensure that all decorations are properly secured to your home and are not at risk of falling. Check local recalls and safety alerts.
- Choose a safe artificial tree : Choose a tree that is fire resistant; you will see a fire-resistant label when buying. When setting it up, ensure the base is sturdy to avoid tipping or falling over.
- Keep live trees watered : Make sure you choose a fresh live tree. Keep it watered to ensure it remains green and fresh and not become a fire hazard.
- Inspect all light strands before using: Carefully inspect all light strands for damage, loose sockets, fraying, and broken lights. Only use CSA-approved lights.
- Do not overuse extension cords : Never connect more than one extension cord. Ensure you don't overextend electrical outlets, or they could short out.
- Choose decorations wisely: Avoid using decorations that look like food or toys if you have young children or pets.
- Use a helper for decorating: Always have someone spot you when using a ladder, lifting heavy boxes, and hanging lights.
- Place decorations carefully: Keep sharp and potentially dangerous decorations and ornaments out of reach for kids and pets. Look for shatterproof ornaments as an added precaution in case they fall off the tree. Also, keep decorations away from heat sources.
- Turn off lights when leaving: Turn off your outside and indoor holiday lights before going to bed or leaving your home.
Holiday hosting safety tips
Are you hosting guests over the holidays? Use these safety tips for a safe and fun evening:
- Avoid unattended cooking: It can be challenging to balance preparing a meal, being a host, and entertaining. Make sure there is always someone able to help in the kitchen.
- Safe food handling and preparation: It can be easy to forget or overlook important food handling guidelines in the rush to prepare food. Do not skip food prep steps and raw meat practices.
- Watch out for fire hazards: There are plenty of fire hazards to watch out for. Make sure you have a screen on your fireplace, avoid placing candles in high-traffic areas, and ensure people properly dispose of cigarettes.
- Keep an extra eye on kids and pets: With so much going on, it is essential to know who is supervising the kids and keeping an eye on pets. You never know what they could get into.
- Arrive alive, drive sober: Offer guests the option to stay over, have a designated driver to take people home at the end of the night and ensure no one is driving high or impaired driving.
Online holiday shopping security checklist
Online shopping is on the rise over the holidays. Studies show that around 43% of consumer fraud victims said the theft happened during online shopping.
Here are eight tips to keep you safe while shopping online:
- Do not save credit card information on sites: Although it is convenient, avoid saving your payment information to online accounts. Not all retailers are equipped to protect your information. Consider using a digital wallet to increase transaction security.
- Ship to a secure location: When possible, arrange to have your packages delivered when you are home. Some delivery services offer pick-up options at post offices or shipping lockers for secure pick-up.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi: Be mindful if you are doing any shopping from a public connection – these are used on public airwaves and are easily accessible for hackers to intercept data.
- Use strong passwords: Use a complex combination of lowercase, uppercase, letters, symbols, and numbers. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and not using personal information such as your birthday.
- Protect your SIN : No retailers should ask for your SIN. If you are being asked to disclose this information, call the customer service line, and let them know. Better yet, close the tab and find a reliable source.
- Watch out for scam emails: Clicking on emails from unknown or unrecognizable sellers can infect your computer with viruses. Delete them immediately, and do not open attachments or click links.
- Check security policies: Look for the small lock icon in the corner of your URL to confirm the page you are on as privacy protection is installed. The URL will also start with an "HTTPS" – if you do not see the "S" after, the webpage is not secure.
- Keep an eye on accounts and bank statements: Check your accounts often to ensure no mysterious or fraudulent charges. Let your bank know immediately if you see anything suspicious.
There are also options for adding identity theft insurance for additional piece of mind.
What are some safety tips for holiday shopping?
The holiday shopping season is hectic. With so many people in the stores and potential distractions, it is essential to be safe when shopping. Here is what you can do to stay safe while shopping:
- Stay alert: Be conscious of what is happening around you – beware of strangers approaching you or creating distractions.
- Shop in familiar places : Shop at stores and locations you frequent.
- Do not leave valuables in plain sight: Avoid leaving your wallet or gifts in plain sight in your vehicle - put them in the trunk or cover them up.
- Park in well-lit areas: Parking in well-lit and busy areas will deter thieves from approaching your vehicle.
- Shop with friends: This will make you less of a target for thieves. Try to shop during the day when possible.
- Avoid drawing attention to yourself: Leave expensive jewelry, electronics, and other items at home while shopping.
- Do not leave your wallet unattended: Keep your keys, wallet, cash and cards close by.
- Give safe gifts to children: Toys are age-rated for safety – be mindful of what age you are buying for. If you are gifting a scooter or other riding toys, including the appropriate safety gear.
Have a safe and merry holiday season!
Being mindful and keeping these tips in mind will help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season. You may want to consider reviewing your contents insurance to ensure new belongings are covered.
Happy Holidays from everyone at ThinkInsure; we wish you a safe and wonderful season!