As magical as the holiday season is, it can also be a hectic time of the year!
Between wrapping gifts, baking holiday treats, decorating your home, and visiting relatives, the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stress-inducing – especially if you’re not prepared.
But stress not! With some simple precautionary measures, you can prepare your home for the hectic weeks ahead and focus on what matters most: enjoying quality time with your loved ones.
In the following guide, we cover the best practices for a safe holiday season, including tips to keep your house and family safe from fire and injury:
#1: ‘Tis the Season to Cook Safely
Shortbread, gingerbread, and sugar cookies galore – it’s officially baking season!
The holidays are always a busy time in the kitchen. Between food drives, bake sales, and get-togethers with friends and family, your kitchen might be operating at full capacity – which is why it’s especially important to practice fire safety in the kitchen.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking-related fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home injuries in the United States. And the leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
Here are a few tips to stay safe:
- Always stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you’re simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you’re cooking.
- If you experience a grease fire, never pour water on it. Instead, smother the flames by placing a metal lid over the pan.
- Keep anything that can catch fire (including, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains) away from your stovetop.
- And no matter how cold it is outside, never use turkey fryers indoors!
If you have children joining you in the kitchen, you may want to print out some cooking safety tips and keep them on your fridge!
#2: Holiday Lights 101
Nothing brings out the holiday magic like some dazzling holiday lights. But before you haul out your ladder, there are a few safety tips you need to keep in mind.
First off, test your lights to make sure they’re working properly. If you notice any frayed or loose wires, or any broken or missing bulbs, throw them away and replace them with new ones.
It might seem tedious, but holiday lights are responsible for 44% of Christmas tree fires, and taking a few precautions can really help reduce your risk.
If you’re purchasing new lights, extension cords, or spotlights, make sure they have a certification mark or logo for UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories), or CSA (Canadian Standards Association).
Basically they are stamps of approval. Products with those logos meet rigorous standards for electrical safety and electromagnetic emissions.
When buying new lights, you should also keep an eye out for whether they’re indoor or outdoor lights. Indoor-only lights aren’t insulated like outdoor lights and won’t work with moisture from the outdoors. In fact, if indoor lights are exposed to water, snow or any other outdoor element, they could possibly become hazardous.
Lastly, make sure to always turn off your holiday lights when you leave the house unattended, or when going to bed. You can also install a timer to switch the light on and off automatically!
#3: Be Careful When Decorating
With boxes, ladders, lights – you name it! – it’s important to be extra mindful of your surroundings when putting up decorations in and around your home.
First off, make sure to take basic precautions if you’re using a ladder to decorate the inside or outside of your home. Inspect the ladder for any loose screws, hinges, or bolts before using.
When using a ladder, make sure it’s placed on a flat, firm, and non-slippery surface to act as a stable base. It’s also best to have a spotter to help keep the ladder planted at all times.
Try to be mindful of where you’re decorating and how much weight you’re bringing up the ladder. It’s important to never decorate near power lines and to avoid bringing any awkward or heavy items with you.
#4: Practice Tree Safety
Nothing quite beats the smell of freshly cut Christmas tree!
But as it turns out, fresh Christmas trees are good for more than just their pleasant aroma – they’re also more resistant to ignition.
This is an often overlooked part of home safety during the holidays. While Christmas tree fires aren’t incredibly common, they tend to be more life-threatening than other home fires when they do occur.
So if your family likes to celebrate with a Christmas tree, it’s important to keep it well-hydrated and away from heat sources.
How can you tell if a tree is well-hydrated? One way is to give the needless a tug. If they’re difficult to pull out, your tree is probably fresh. If they fall out really easily, that’s a good sign that your tree is dried out and needs to be replaced.
Even if your family has an artificial tree, it’s important to make sure that that it’s labelled as fire resistant and kept away from any heat sources.
#5: Test Your Smoke Alarms
With your oven packed with delicious baked goods and your family gathered around the fireplace, there’s no better (or necessary) time to practice home fire safety.
Despite this joyous season, accidents happen. And the more precautions you take the better off you’ll be.
So before the holidays roll around, make sure to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to make sure they work.
When testing the alarms, press and hold the test button. After a few seconds, a loud, ear-piercing sound should emanate. If the sound is weak or even nonexistent, it’s time to replace the batteries.
For extra peace of mind, you should also consider installing a Notion Sensor by a smoke alarm. This way, if your smoke alarm sounds, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone.
#6: Use Candles Cautiously
With the scents of cypress, pine, juniper, and sandalwood, candles can give any space a festive winter-y vibe. But they can come with their dangers as well.
When using candles over the holidays, make sure to never leave them burning unattended, and always place them out of reach of children and pets.
It’s also important that candles are stored in sturdy candle holders, on a flat surface away from anything flammable, such as curtains or blankets.
When decorating your home, remember that lit candles should never be used to decorate trees and that they should be kept a safe distance from any branches or needles.
Lastly, don’t forget to put out all candles before you bed! If you feel like you might forget or want to play it extra safe, opt for the battery-power candles instead.
#7: Mind the Kids
The holidays can be an incredibly busy time of the year! With families coming together to celebrate, it can often feel like chaos.
But amid the chaos, it’s important there’s clear communication around who’s supervising and young children and when.
It’s also important to stay mindful of what’s left lying around. Avoid leaving wrapping paper, bags, metal ties, ribbons, glass ornaments, and anything else that could pose a hazard to young children.
This also goes for guests’ purses or bags, which could contain hazardous contents such as medications or small items.
So if small children will be in the home over the holidays, keep an extra eye out for anything that could be harmful. And if you’re shopping for gifts, make sure they are age-appropriate.
#8: Practice Fireplace Safety
Nothing screams the holidays like roasting chestnuts over an open fire!
But before you get to any roasting, it’s important to first make sure that your fireplace is cleaned, inspected, and properly maintained.
First off, never leave an active fire unattended. A few rogue sparks can quickly get out of hand, so it’s important to always have someone keeping an eye on the fire.
To reduce the risk of spark and embers igniting your home, it’s also a good idea to install a screen or door between your fireplace and flooring.
And when you’re putting the fire out, make sure that the embers (and not just the flames) are out as well. You should also give the ashes plenty of time to cool down before disposing of them (some recommend waiting as long as 24 hours before removing ashes from your fireplace).
Finally, it’s really important to have your chimney cleaned at least once a year. Blocked or defective chimneys from built-up tar and soot can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, so it's a good idea to hire a professional chimney cleaner.
For extra tips on how to prevent household fires, check out our guide on fire safety.
#9: Keep the Sidewalks Clear
During the holidays, the winter weather can pose all kinds of risks.
With guests coming and going from your home, it’s important to keep any sidewalks or walkways clear of snow and ice.
When clearing your walkways, make sure to remove the snow before it freezes. If snow is left for too long it can become extremely difficult to remove.
Shoveling snow can also be hard on the body, so remember to use your legs to lift to avoid any injuries. When you’re out in the cold, it’s easy to strain a muscle, so clear and little at a time and take as many breaks as you need!
Lastly, it’s very important to make sure you apply salt to any icy areas. Remember that it takes time for ice to melt, so don’t try to remove the ice immediately after the salt has been sprinkled.
#10: Need a Perfect Gift Idea?
Still on the hunt for the perfect gift? We got you covered!
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The best part is they give any family or household member peace of mind that their home is monitored and protected.
Thanks for reading! On behalf of the Notion team, we wish you all a very happy holiday season!