Holiday Hazards (And How to Prevent Them)
While most of us look to the holiday season with excitement and anticipation, the reality is that with an increase in online and on-the-road activity, as well as home projects, visitors and more, there are a number of pitfalls that homeowners and travelers should be aware of.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest holiday hazards, as well as a few prevention tips to help keep them from happening to you.
When it comes to the holidays, one of the most significant threats to the American home is fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 790 fires a year begin with Christmas decorations—excluding Christmas trees—while the trees themselves account for another 160 a year.
Prevention Tip: When stringing lights or any other electric decorations, make sure you are double-checking that the wires are intact, with no fraying or loose connections. And if you have a live tree, you’ll want to make sure it stays well hydrated; a dry tree can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.
From porch pirates nabbing daily deliveries to home invasions and break-ins, theft is a big concern during this time of year. And while your local thief may be seeing an uptick in activity, there’s no reason you have to be part of his list.
Prevention tip: At home, keep track of what you’ve ordered to be shipped to your home, and when it is expected to come in, so you can get your packages inside before they are a temptation for drivers-by. When out shopping, take care to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings to avoid becoming a victim of robbery. Finally, at home, keep doors and windows secured—whether you’re traveling or just watching Christmas movies—and double-check any vehicles outside, as well.
Hanging lights and wreaths may seem pretty straightforward, but according to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, there are on average more than 14,000 holiday-related accidents each year during the December holidays—most of those being attributed to slips and falls.
Prevention tip: As with any home improvement task that includes ladders or elevation, take time to ensure you’re practicing standard safety measures for your project. Ladders should be firmly on the ground, with no wobbling, and you should have a spotter to keep you steady, if possible. Keep tools handy close by, and maintain three points of contact between you and the ladder at all times for added security. Finally, make sure you keep paths clear of clutter and mess, so that you avoid tripping over it when moving boxes or decorations around.
The Christmas holiday marks the busiest travel season by far, which also makes it the most dangerous, as well. Between an increase in drivers, holiday travel or even Christmas party goers on the road a little too late, December road travel can be pretty risky.
Prevention tip: You can’t always prevent accidents, but you can take a few safety measures. Outside of carrying drivers’ insurance (a must!), take a few hours to take your car into the mechanic—pre-travel—to have the oil changed, tires checked and make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the trip. In addition, if you’re headed to a holiday party where alcohol will make a showing, make sure you select a designated driver for the night to keep everyone safe.
There’s no worse time of year than to find out you’ve become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, but the increase in online shopping, gift orders and credit card scanners makes it a prime time for someone looking to hack into your accounts.
Prevention tip: When using your credit card around town, take a closer look and make sure there isn’t a skimmer over the scanner waiting to grab your information. When using your phone, stay off of public wi-fi, and if possible, use a VPN to protect your online searches, instead. Finally, when shopping online, make sure you’re only shopping secure sites (you’ll see a locked padlock next to the web address), and avoid phishing scams by not clicking on any random links that may be emailed or texted your way.
They may go overlooked, but injuries can put a quick damper on the holiday spirit. From cooking burns or cuts, to injuries sustained from opening packages (yes, it happens a lot!), there’s no shortage of ways to win a trip to the emergency room, if you’re not careful.
Prevention Tip: As with any other situation in the kitchen, practice general safety precautions by paying attention to open flames and blades, and keeping knives sharp and pan lids close by. Cut away from yourself—when wrapping or unwrapping—and use a tool to get into those plastic-encased presents.
Whatever you have going on this holiday season, don’t end up on the bad size of the hazards list. From homeowners’ policies to car insurance, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through all types of coverage, every step of the way. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.