Our homes are our sanctuaries, and spending time in their cozy confines during the holidays, especially when the weather is cold and dark, is a special treat. However, as joyous a time it is, it is also very busy, and often stressful. With more people than usual coming to and fro, more activities, more cooking, and a lot more expectations, the numerous distractions can be followed by accidents.
Avoid an unfortunate holiday home insurance claim by taking some small, but necessary, precautions. Being aware of the most common types of accidents over the holidays means you have a better chance of avoiding them.
Fires Happen Often Over the Holidays
Holiday home insurance claims most often occur because of fire. Let’s start with fireplace safety. Many Calgary homes have wood-burning fireplaces that were installed long before natural gas became the norm. They are fragrant, warm, and create a comforting ambience, but if they’re left unattended or handled improperly, they can quickly turn dangerous. Be sure to follow these important fireplace safety tips.
- Always have an adult in the room watching the fire.
- 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 ashes or embers in the fireplace until completely out, 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 place a Christmas tree – real or fake – closer than 15 feet from a fireplace.
Next up are candles, which are very pretty, but also hazardous. It’s actually not advisable to burn candles at all, but if you really want to enjoy the beautiful light and scents they give off, here are some ways to ensure their use won’t result in a holiday home insurance claim.
- Never, ever, leave a candle unattended.
- Before burning, trim the wick down to a quarter of an inch to ensure the flame does not get too large.
- Always use a proper candleholder that will catch all the wax in an inflammable receptacle.
- Use high-quality candles that will not sputter or flare.
- Never place a candle near anything that is flammable.
- Keep candles well away from children and pets.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish it before it reaches the bottom.
- Use a candle-snuffer to extinguish the candle rather than blowing it out. This is the safest way.
Lights and decorations can also cause problems. As a general rule, newer decorations are safer, so your older family heirloom decorations should only be used with care.
- 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.
When it comes to Christmas trees, artificial trees not only last longer, they are also less likely to be accidentally ignited by an open flame as they are fire resistant. They are far sturdier, as well, making them less likely to fall over and injure someone.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are literally lifesavers. It’s good to be in the habit of testing your smoke detectors at least once per month. They all have a test button that you simply press to ensure the detector is working properly. Have members of your family go into various rooms to ensure detectors can be heard from all areas of the house. If you have a battery-powered unit, replace the batteries at least once a year.
Experts usually recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors in places where they will not be impeded, and they should also be located away from combustion appliances to prevent false alarms. As with smoke detectors, you should conduct monthly tests to ensure it is working properly, and replace its batteries at least once a year.
Holiday Home Insurance Claims Can Be Easily Avoided
Our experienced brokers at Lane’s Insurance work with the best insurance companies to provide unmatched benefits for our clients. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Alberta offices today to discuss all aspects of your home insurance policy in Alberta.