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Don’t Let Home Hazards Endanger Your Holidays

Holiday safety should not be overlooked. Injuries and property damage can put a damper on holiday festivities, so stay safe with our tips to avoid costly homeowner insurance claims.

imagesBelow are the most common holiday mishaps and tips on how to avoid them.


Christmas Tree Fires

A Christmas tree loaded with electrical lights can be highly flammable. Other fires can be caused by placing a tree too close to a heat source such as a fireplace or space heater.

Tip:  Always turn lights off before leaving the house or going to bed.  It is also important to dispose of your tree properly after Christmas. Trees at this time are very dry and hazardous. They should not be left in a home, garage, or set on fire in your backyard or fireplace. Check with your local community to find a recycling program for your tree.

Over-taxed extension cords powering holiday lights can result in some unpleasant and dangerous shocks.

Tip:  Prevent electrocution by using a ground fault interrupter (GFI). A GFI is a device that disconnects a circuit whenever it detects an electric current is not balanced or is overloaded. Also, we advise to not attach more than three strands of lights into one outlet or extension cord.


Fires Caused by Fireplaces

The fireplace can spark a devastating fire if not started or maintained properly.


1.  Once a year, have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney specialist.

2.  When using the fireplace, make sure the damper is open and always use a grate or a screen in front of the fireplace.  Should a fire become out of control, use an extinguisher or sand to put it out, not water.

3.  Avoid burning anything other than firewood or synthetic fire logs in your fireplace as things such as wrapping paper, cardboard, etc. can burn erratically.


Kitchen Fires

Don’t be distracted while cooking your holiday meals!  The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

Tip:  Keep flammable items, such as, wooden utensils, towels and food packaging away from the stovetop and oven. Keep a fire extinguisher approved for cooking and grease fires nearby.


Kitchen Flooding

Dishwasher flooding happens quite often during this time of year due to heavy usage and improper clearing of the drain, or adjacent garbage disposal.


1.  Cut off the water at its source immediately at the first sign of flooding. Often there’s a reducer coupling and shutoff valve leading to the dishwasher on the 1/2-inch hot-water sink-supply line.

2.  Rubber hoses commonly are used to supply water to a dishwasher, and they deteriorate over time. Replace the rubber hose with a much sturdier steel-braided hose (found at most home improvement centers and hardware stores). Buying the hose and installing it yourself costs about $20.

If you do experience a garbage disposal backup, there are many resources available on the internet to assist you.


Poisoning by Plants

Live holiday plants like Mistletoe, Holly Berries, Jerusalem cherry and Amaryllis should not be consumed by humans or pets as they are poisonous.

Tip:  Keep these plants out of the reach of small children and animals. If children or pets ingest these plants, immediately contact your local Poison Control.


Holiday decorating often entails hanging decorations indoors and outdoors, and falls are very common during this time of year.

Tip:  Always use a stable ladder or stool when you need some extra height.  If possible, have a friend or family member there to help and spot you in case of a potential fall or injury.


Fires Caused by Candles

Unattended candles are one of the leading causes of home fires.

Tip:  Use battery-powered lights or flameless candles.  If you do use candles, do not put matches, lighters, or candles in places where children can reach.

Most fires and damages listed above are covered by your Access Home Insurance residential homeowner insurance policy, subject to the terms and conditions of your specific policy.  If you have questions about coverage on your insurance policy, please contact your agent.  Find your agent online at