The holidays are usually a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate the joys of the season.
The fireplaces are lit, the lights are strung, and the trees are decorated to get us all in that holiday spirit.
VanDerGinst Law wants you to have the best and safest holiday so here are some holiday home safety tips for everything from lighting, security, pets, and things to keep in mind about COVID-19.
1. Children & Pets
With all of the new and pretty decorations and lights for kids to look at, it’s especially important to keep safety in mind when decorating, as kids will be interested in seeing things out that they normally don’t see.
It’s also important to keep pets in mind, as they will have more obstacles to move around, and more electrical cords to contend with.
Here are some child and pet safety tips to keep in mind:
a. Keep all decorations out of reach, including ornaments with moving parts and those small enough to be choking hazards, such as small ornaments or tinsel.
b. Be sure your ornaments are unbreakable and free of sharp edges.
c. Avoid using decorations that look like candy to children.
d. Store scissors and other gift-wrapping items out of reach.
e. Place older ornaments that may contain lead paint out of reach.
f. Keep children and pets away from strings of lights and electrical cords.
g. Do not leave a child or pet unattended around a fire or space heater.
h. Poinsettias are mildly toxic to humans and pets, keep them out of reach.
i. Ensure your tree is secure so children and pets can’t knock it over.
2. Lighting, Decorations, & Ornaments
Children and pets aren’t the only things to worry about when decorating and getting set up for the holidays.
The holidays are a time of year when we are exposed to things that we don’t do too often as well, such as stringing lights on our roofs and firing up the fire place.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when decorating for the holidays:
a. Never use lighted candles on or near a tree, real or artificial.
b. Only use non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to decorate, including your artificial tree.
c. Check your live tree for freshness prior to purchase and ensure the tree stand is always filled with water.
d. Never place your tree or other decorations near fireplaces, portable heaters, or radiators.
e. Replace old or damaged lighting, check lighted decorations for frayed wires, broken sockets, and loose connections prior to plugging them in.
f. Always check to ensure that the lights and power cords are rated for outdoor safety when using them outside.
g. Look for decorations that have a certification mark such as UL or ELT.
h. Do not overload extension or power cords.
i. Turn off all decorations and lights prior to leaving the house or going to bed.
j. Do not block doorways with any decorations.
k. Place lighted candles where they can’t be knocked over.
l. Never throw decorations or wrapping paper in a fireplace.
m. When a glass ornament breaks, make sure you aren’t cleaning it up with your bare hands. Cuts from glass can happen easily. Use a vacuum or broom to clean the mess.
While 2020 may not be a good year for travel, some of us will find ourselves traveling for the holidays regardless.
Here are some travel tips to keep in mind for the holidays:
a. In this pandemic year, avoid traveling if possible
b. If you’re traveling, don’t post on social media that you will be gone.
b. Don’t discuss travel plans with anyone you don’t know.
c. Use your home security system when away.
d. Have a friend or neighbor keep an eye on your home, including picking up your mail or newspaper.
Special Note: COVID-19 Safety During the Holidays
It’s hard to tell what level the pandemic will at, and how severe of a lockdown we will have around end-of-year holidays this year.
Given that states are becoming stricter with travel and lockdowns around Thanksgiving, it stands to reason that remaining holidays will be very similar, and travel will not be suggested.
While your 2020 holiday season may not be ideal, it’s important to stay safe this year by utilizing some of these tips:
- Avoid large traditional gatherings for the holidays and simply have a nice time in with the people you already live with.
- Call or video conference those you usually have a larger holiday gathering with in order to stay connected.
- Do not go to any planned gatherings if you (or someone in your household) are showing any symptoms of being sick.
- If you do have a gathering, make sure that you keep the gathering as small as possible and follow your state’s guidelines for gatherings.
- Also if you have a gathering, make sure to social distance as much as possible.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands regularly.
- Make sure you have proper ventilation during gatherings such as an open window and/or fans running. This will reduce the risk of sickness spreading.
- Check temperatures at the door if possible, and if you host the gathering, urge others who are showing signs of sickness to stay home.
- Avoid going to the store for last minute items or sales to avoid the large crowds. Instead opt to shop online and get groceries delivered if possible.
- We are not doctors and cannot give you medical advice. Please refer to CDC and state guidelines before any gathering takes place to ensure all proper protocols are being followed.
While it is important to stay connected with family and friends, especially during the holidays, it’s more important to stay safe and utilize available technology to stay connected.
One final tip, never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking! VanDerGinst Law hopes these tips will help you have a very safe and happy this holiday season!
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