5 Holiday Safety Tips to Help Avoid an Insurance Claim

The holidays are a great time of year. Gatherings with family and friends are a time to make memories and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Along with all the positive things that come with the holiday season are other less fortunate occurrences, such as an increase in dwelling fires, burglaries, and other home perils. To be reassured that you are doing your due diligence to keep your family and property safe and sound this holiday season, here are some holiday safety tips to help keep you safe and help avoid an insurance claim during these busy times:

1. Check Electrical Cords and Christmas Lights

Many people find the holidays a time to decorate their homes for the festivities of the season. Unfortunately, Christmas trees are a leading cause of dwelling fires. If you are planning to use Christmas lights, it is important to have a few safeguards in place so that your home does not become another tragic holiday statistic.

Check Cords for Exposed Wires

First, be sure to check the electrical cords for any bare and exposed wires. Depending on where they were stored, things like rodent damage could lead to bare wires that could create a fire hazard when the lights are strung on a Christmas tree, outdoor shrubbery, or other decorations.

Avoid Overloading Outlets

Secondly, be sure that you do not overload your outlets. Outlets shouldn’t have multiple adapters plugged into each other. This can cause these units to overheat and lead to a fire.

Discard and Replace Outdated Christmas Lights

Additionally, old, outdated Christmas lights should be discarded. New styles of lights produce far less heat than the light bulbs that were in use years ago. So, if you still have old strands of Christmas lights, discard them and upgrade to newer, safer lights.

Consider a Timer for Your Lights

Lastly, consider putting your Christmas lights on a timer. This way, if you forget to turn them off before you go to bed or leave your home, they will not run indefinitely. Furthermore, they won’t create a possible greater hazard for your home during times when it is most susceptible to loss.

2. Consider a Home Security System

Homeowner insurance companies are very appreciative when homeowners install a whole-home security system. So much so, in fact, that they often give discounts on homeowners’ insurance policies when homes have these central alarm systems installed.

A home security system that is routed to a monitoring center that will call first responders if a problem occurs can help to keep a fire loss minimal or serve as a general deterrent to would-be home burglars. Some of these systems monitor CO2 levels in the home as well, which is a good idea. This is especially true in homes with supplemental heating systems that will be utilized during the winter months and often most commonly during the holiday season.

3. Clean Chimneys

Before you use a fireplace for the first time this season, it is important that you have the chimney professionally cleaned. Tar and soot can build up in the chimney over time and cause an increased chance for a chimney fire. Rodents or birds can also bring debris into the chimney when it is not in use or build nests at the top of the flue, which can cause a blockage and reduce the chimney’s ability to vent the fireplace and pull a draft.

4. Ask a Trusted Neighbor to Watch Your Home

If you are one of the millions of Americans with travel plans for the holiday season, it is a good idea to ask a trusted neighbor to watch your home while you are gone. If your neighbor knows the dates you are out of town, they are more likely to notice any suspicious behavior or activity around your home while you are absent.

Additionally, if a winter storm strikes and the surrounding area is without power while you are out-of-town, having a neighbor who can drain the water pipes in your home during an extended period of black-out can save you thousands of dollars of property losses from a frozen and ruptured pipe, not to mention the inconvenience and aggravation.

5. Have Salt or Ice-Melt on Hand

Another one of the helpful holiday safety tips is to have salt or ice-melt on hand, especially if you live in a part of the country that will likely receive some inclement weather. Salt is good to have around for freezing rain conditions that are often more treacherous than a couple of inches of snowfall.

If you have plans to entertain family and friends this holiday season, it is important, for liability and general safety reasons, that you maintain safe and ice-free walkways to your home. Salt is a good, convenient way to maintain clear pathways after snow or ice has been shoveled or scraped away. Outside of the holidays, maintaining clear walkways is one of the ways to avoid an insurance claim during the winter.

By taking a couple of small steps and keeping these holiday safety tips in mind this holiday season, you can ensure that your family, friends, and home can all stay out of harm’s way. Be sure to make your own checklist of safety concerns and go through each one, systematically, to ensure that your home is adequately protected this holiday season.

Loss prevention is the most optimal approach. It is also important to maintain a comprehensive Homeowner’s Insurance Policy so that an unforeseen loss occurrence does not devastate your family financially. If you would like to review the coverages you currently have in place, give one of our experienced personal lines agents a call today at 1-800-537-6880 or 717-665-2283.

Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.