The holidays should be a time filled with laughter, family, and friends. However, all too often the holiday season is one marred by easily avoidable disasters.
We want you to have a safe and happy season, so please avoid these common holiday risks that can quickly make things go terribly wrong.
Cooking, Christmas Tree, & Lighting Fires
Preparing holiday meals, decorating the tree, and stringing lights are all part of the festive season. However, done improperly they can lead to costly, dangerous fires that will definitely put a damper on holiday joy.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is still the number one cause of fires in the nation. Don’t leave food unattended on the stove and don’t deep fry your turkey.
Check your lights and extension cords and don’t overload the sockets. Replace frayed cords and consider swapping old Christmas lights with LED strings instead. They create less heat and are far less likely to start a fire.
Ignoring Smoke & CO2 Detectors
Ensure your home has carbon monoxide alarms installed on every level of your home and around all sleeping areas. Test these and your smoke detectors monthly and replace batteries or units when necessary.
Neglecting Fireplace or Wood Stove
Who doesn’t want to snuggle up in front of a cozy fire during the holidays? However, if you don’t care for your fireplace or wood stove it could lead to a destructive chimney fire.
Experts recommend you clean the chimneys in your home annually. This should include an inspection for faulty parts and damage.
Don’t forget to remove the stockings from the mantel when you light the fire. Only burn seasoned firewood and never use woodburning appliances for burning wrapping paper, boxes, or cardboard.
Holiday Guest Liability
An accident involving a guest will definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. Ensure walkways are clear so Grandma doesn’t slip and fall.
While your insurance policy does offer some liability coverage for guests, you might want to check your coverage limits to ensure you have sufficient protection should an event lead to a lawsuit.
Also monitor your guest’s alcohol consumption. If Uncle Joe drinks too much, hops behind the wheel, and causes an accident you could be held liable. Plus, your insurance policy may not offer liquor liability coverage. Check with your insurance agent and add a “host liquor” endorsement if possible.
‘Tis the season to shop online. It fast and often a better choice since you avoid the crowds. However, online shopping comes with risks.
Check whether your insurance policy offers identity theft coverage which can protect you if you’re comprised while buying online. If your homeowners insurance doesn’t include cyber liability coverage, you may be able to add it affordably.
About 49 million consumers fell victim last year with the average loss around $1,100. However, the cost of re-establishing credit and your identity can cost much, much more.
Unsecured Valuable Items
Retailers may leave parcels on your doorstep which can invite light-fingered criminals. Keep the area well-lit, install an inexpensive camera, or ask your neighbor to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior. If you’re the victim of package theft, it is usually covered under personal property coverage.
However, if you already have expensive items on your property, you will want to ensure they’re properly protected. Talk to your insurance agent beforehand to ensure high-ticket items such as jewelry, expensive electronics, collectibles, antiques, and fine art are properly insured.
Extra coverage is affordable via a policy rider or an umbrella policy as homeowner’s policies have limits on these items.
Poor Food Safety
The holidays usually mean preparing and storing plenty of food. However, when food is handled improperly it can lead to foodborne illness which definitely won’t add to holiday cheer.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and store leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours. Don’t leave them in the fridge more than three or fours days. Thoroughly clean all surfaces to avoid contamination.
The holidays are a time for family, friends, and relaxation – follow these tips and you’re sure to have a great holiday season!