Over the holidays, a Safe Home is the Greatest Gift

The holidays are meant to be a time for celebration. The last thing you want to encounter is misfortune. So, whether you're staying at home to host or just relax, here's a safety checklist to help you focus on the festivities and avoid the unthinkable. Remember: presence of mind can be the best present of all.

Toys

  • Keep toys with small loose parts out of reach of younger children.
  • Make sure batteries in toys are properly installed and not accessible to children. Never let children go to bed with battery-operated toys or gadgets.
  • Quickly dispose of all packing materials that can choke or suffocate children, such as Styrofoam pellets, ties, plastic bags and wrapping.

Candles

  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Keep lit candles in high places-away from children, pets and all decorations.
  • Use low-based candleholders that can't tip easily.
  • Trim candlewicks to prevent a high flickering flame.
  • Be aware of candles used in a centerpiece, burning too long or low might ignite the decorations.

Holiday trees

  • If you're buying a real tree, check that it's fresh (its needles stubbornly stay on) and water it daily.
  • Secure your tree in a sturdy stand.
  • Place the tree away from high traffic areas, doorways and any heat-generators: ducts, vents, radiators, stoves or fireplaces.
  • Keep tree decorations that are delicate, sharp, breakable or have small removable parts near the top of the tree.
  • Remove your tree soon after the holidays, whenever the needles start to fall. Check with your municipality for a tree-recycling program.

Holiday lights

  • Never use indoor lights outside, or vice versa.
  • Check all light bulbs before stringing them up and replace broken or burned-out bulbs with those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Discard any light strings that are frayed or have exposed wires, loose connections or broken light sockets.
  • Never run electrical cords under carpets or through doorways.
  • Never overload outlets.
  • Always remember to turn off all holiday lights before bedtime and when you leave your home.

Away from home during the holidays? Here are a few tips to deter thieves

  • Maintaining the illusion of everyday activity is the first defense against intruders. Use inexpensive automatic timers to turn on lights, the radio and even the television. Remember to stagger on-and-off times at realistic intervals.
  • Sliding patio doors and garage doors are particularly vulnerable to thieves. Secure sliding doors with a steel rod. A simple padlock on the track of your garage door will help thwart attempts to force it open.
  • Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and bring garbage bins to the curb. Give them a key so they can check inside the house, too. Cancel newspapers and scheduled deliveries or have them redirected to a neighbor.

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