Protecting your home for the holidays


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There’s enough to worry about now that the holiday season is swiftly encroaching — I mean, approaching: mall runs, dessert baking, hosting responsibilities and the list goes on. But let’s not forget to take care of the place that promises to keep us warm and toasty this December: your home. With all the decorating, vacations and little ones running around, it’s important to keep your abode safe from holiday headaches.

If you are putting up a Christmas tree, the Home Safety Council has this helpful mnemonic device: Remember the word “STAR.”

• Space: Keep your tree at least 3 ft. away from heat sources or flames;
• Turn off the lights when you leave the room or go to sleep;
• Add water daily to keep your tree from drying out; and
• Replace lights when they are cracked or the wire is frayed. You should purchase new holiday lights about every three years. Look for the UL label on the box so you know they have been tested for safety (Green holographic UL Mark = indoor-only use; Red holographic UL Mark = indoor and outdoor use), and go for energy-efficient holiday lights this Christmas.

If you plan on lighting the Hanukkah menorah (or any candle), keep this checklist in mind before burning your wicks:

• Be sure an adult is in the room;
• Make sure candles aren’t lit before leaving the room or going to bed;
• Keep candles away from children, pets and at least 3 ft. from anything that can burn;
• Use stable candleholders; and
• Keep lit candles where they can’t be knocked down.

If you need to buy gifts for young children:

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), hospital emergency rooms treated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 in the United States. So mark this on your calendars: December is Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month, brought to you by Prevent Blindness America.

“In the excitement of the season, sometimes we may forget that not every gift is appropriate for every child,” said Hugh Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America, in a press release. “By taking a few easy safety precautions, we can keep the holidays happy for everyone.”

In order to make sure the kiddies are safe this holiday, Prevent Blindness America suggests the following:

• Recommend appropriate toys that your family can buy for your child;
• For younger children, stay away from play sets with small magnets, and make sure batteries are secured within the toy. Ingested magnets or batteries can cause injuries and/or death;
• Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off;
• Make sure toys are sturdy, with no sharp edges or points, and throw away plastic wrapping material immediately; and
• Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. If the part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
For more information on safe toys and gifts for children, visit Preventblindness.org.


If you plan on traveling:

December is a busy traveling time and a burglar’s dream. Don’t fall victim to a home invasion this holiday season with these tips from Home Security Source:

• Do not advertise your travel plans on social media sites, such as Facebook;
• Put indoor and outdoor lights on a timer;
• Tell a trusted neighbor or friend of your plans;
• Lock your valuables in a safe;
• Ask a neighbor to pick up your newspaper and park his car in your driveway; and
• Invest in an alarm system if you don’t have one already.

If your four-legged friends want to get in on the holiday cheer:

Now that the safety of your children and home are taken care of, don’t forget your pets’ well-being. PetSmart has you covered with some dos and don’ts to protect your pets this holiday season:

• Ingesting Christmas decorations can be extremely dangerous and/or life threatening to your pets. Keep the following items our of reach: poisonous flowers, mistletoe, holly berries, small ornaments, ornament hangers and hooks, rubber bands, staples, string, tacks, tape, artificial snow, aluminum foil, cellophane candy wrappers, edible garlands, tinsel, toys and Christmas tree water;
• Nicotine can be fatal to pets. Make sure you put out ashtrays (away from your pets) if you or your party guests smoke;
• Hide electrical cords under the tree skirt or tape them down to prevent shocks, burns or more serious injuries;
• Secure your Christmas tree. Anchor it to the floor with weights and run fishing line from the top of the tree to the ceiling; and
• If you’re throwing a fabulous holiday party, be aware that your pets can get stressed. Move your furry friends to a quiet room, which will also keep them from escaping as guests enter and exit your home.

Did I miss any safety tips? Comment below with some of your own.