The holidays are just around the corner in Calgary, and nobody wants a misfortune to dampen their festive spirits. Yet, statistics show that accidents and injuries tend to spike around the holiday season, since homes are hosting increased levels of activity. Decorations, fireplaces and other cozy tidings of goodwill and happiness pose some safety risks to the unwary. Avoid an unfortunate holiday insurance claim with these important safety tips.
Proper Use of Holiday Lights and Decorations
Many people love to decorate the house, but there are many ways the pretty additions to your home can cause an accident, a fire, and an unwanted home insurance claim.
- Do not overload your outlets. Plugging in too many fixtures and appliances can cause a circuit to blow. If you have faulty wiring, this could result in a fire.
- Only use CSA-approved string lights. These have been tested to meet Canadian electrical standards.
- Look for decorations and lights using LED bulbs. These do not give off as much heat as incandescent bulbs, meaning they are the only choice for Christmas trees, and they are also far more efficient, lasting as much as 40 times longer and using 90% less power.
- Carefully check Christmas lights for fire hazards: frayed cords, loose connections, damaged or worn sockets and bare wires are all warning signs.
- Artificial trees not only last longer, they are also less likely to fall over and injure someone or be accidentally ignited by an open flame. If you purchase an artificial tree, make sure to look for a label indicating it is fire resistant.
- Be careful when climbing ladders to hang decorations. Falling off a ladder is a common home accident, and injuries can range from bumps and bruises to serious broken bones and head trauma. Don’t climb a ladder alone, always ensure it is fully opened (the hinges should be locked down and straight), do not set it up on uneven ground and it is recommended to never climb higher than the third step.
- Triple-check your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Both can be lifesavers.
Candles are festive, but extremely dangerous. According to Fire Prevention Canada, the majority of candle fires begin in bedrooms, except during the holidays, when people place candles far too close to flammable decorations. These days there are battery-operated candles that provide the same ambience, and some varieties even come scented. If you absolutely must use a candle, ensure to be extremely cautious.
- Never, ever leave a candle unattended.
- Trim wicks to about a quarter of an inch high before burning. Long wicks can flare and cause excessive dripping.
- Make sure candles are placed in a sturdy and strong candle-holder that will completely catch wax drippings and resist heat.
- Place candles far away from flammable items. They are best burned without anything else nearby.
- Only burn candles in well-ventilated rooms and away from drafty windows.
Many Calgary homes have wood-burning fireplaces that were installed long before natural gas became the norm. Fireplaces add an ambient touch to any winter gathering, but if they’re left unattended or handled improperly, they can quickly turn dangerous. Be sure to follow these important fireplace safety tips:
- Never use gasoline or other combustible liquids to start an indoor fire.
- Avoid placing Christmas stockings on the mantelpiece near an active fireplace.
- Always use a screen to protect a live fire.
- Do not discard gift wrapping or other paper products in your indoor fireplace; they burn very quickly, and the flames can billow, creating the potential for fire to spread.
- Leave fire ashes or embers in the fireplace, or collect them in a metal can and dispose of them outdoors.
- Only use properly seasoned wood in your fireplace, and ensure that it is dry before use.
- Never position a Christmas tree – real or fake – closer than 10 feet from your fireplace.
Don’t Forget to Have Your Home Checked If Going Away!
If you are headed out of town (hopefully to somewhere warm), call your insurance broker to discuss the terms of your policy. Most home insurance policies also explicitly outline what you can and cannot do in order to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of your coverage. Specific to holidays and vacations, insurance companies generally require you to:
- Have a “competent” person visit or enter your property on a regular basis during your absence to make sure nothing is amiss
- Turn off your water supply and drain all faucets, fixtures, and plumbing of any water
- Ensure there is no possibility that continued utilities services creates a risk of fire or other damages
Having someone stop by and check your property will also help deter burglars. More tips for keeping thieves away from your home include:
- Stopping newspapers, mail, and any other deliveries that will be obvious to passers-by.
- Hire someone to remove snow from your walkway, porch, and driveway.
- Ensure your security system is armed and working. Even consider having one installed – it can result in a discount on your home insurance rates.
- Lock all doors and windows and unplug your garage door opener.
- Put your indoor and outdoor lights on timers, so your home isn’t completely dark at night. Installing motion sensors on outside lights near doors or windows can discourage anyone from getting too close.
- Leave curtains and blinds open, but remove valuables from plain sight. Closed curtains give an intruder the privacy they need to go through your home unnoticed.
- Don’t announce on social media that you are away. Post those amazing vacation pictures after you return.
Happy Holidays From Us at Lane’s Insurance of Calgary!
Trust Lane’s for all of your Calgary home insurance needs. Our trained insurance brokers have access to the best policies in Canada, and will work hard to get you all of the discounts you deserve. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Alberta offices today.