10 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year! With the holidays just around the corner, homeowners are busy buying those last minute gifts, decorating the house, preparing the home for family and friends and making travel arrangements.

If you are Kevin McAllister from the Christmas classic, Home Alone, then you have nothing to fear. That kid protected his 4,250 sq ft home with a couple of firecrackers, some cans of paint and a tarantula!

But if you do not have an energetic, overly imaginative 8 year old to leave at home during your holiday season, you may want to check these items off your list.

Whether you are staying home this year or visiting family, we want you, your family and your home to be safe. With these ten tips, you can ensure the safety of what matters most to you. 1. Do not post your holiday travel plans online.

Broadcasting the location or duration of your trip on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be dangerous. It may be something exciting you really want to share, but be aware that you are blatantly telling criminals, “I’m not home”.

"OMG. I just realized I left the back door of my house unlocked but I am super excited to be away from my fancy house that is full of the latest electronics and expensive jewels for an entire week.....hope no one robs me! LOL

#sillysanta #holidayfail #thankyouhomeownersinsurace "

2. Make sure your gifts and valuables are not visible from the street.

If a criminal can easily see what is in your home, the more likely they will be tempted to come inside to steal items. Placing your empty boxes outside for pickup broadcasts what is available in your home. Break the boxes down, turn them inside out, put them in your trash can and don’t place them on the curb until trash day.

3. Put your lights on an automatic timer.

It's a good idea to put your indoor lights on an automatic timer if you are vacationing for the holidays. From the street, it looks like someone is home. You will cut costs on your energy bill by keeping your outdoor Christmas lights on a timer, as well. Electrical fires are the highest in December - be smart and be safe. It isn't worth the risk to leave your lights on all night.

4. Pay attention to those Christmas trees.

If you’re buying an artificial tree, look for a “fire-resistant” label.When choosing a live tree, look for fresh green needles that don’t break easily when bent. Set your tree up away from fireplaces, radiators, portable heaters and other heat sources. Heat sources too close to the tree cause roughly one in every six holiday tree fires. Be sure to keep the tree watered, and make sure it doesn’t block any main exits.

5. Give your space heaters SPACE.

Space heaters are a great way to warm a room without heating the whole house. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Read and follow all instructions of your space heater. Keep a 3 foot radius around the heater to prevent burns or fires. Never leave the heater unattended and unplug it from the outlet when leaving the room.

6. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane). In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. Test your detectors and change batteries if needed.

7. Program your thermostat to save some holiday cash.

Homeowners spend about half of their energy costs on heating and cooling alone. An easy way to trim this spending is to set the thermostat to a warmer temperature during the summer and a cooler temperature in winter, especially at times when the house is empty. A programmable thermostat automates this daily task and provides a way to make sure the house is comfortable when your family rises in the morning and returns in the evening. Newer devices are accessible via mobile apps for instant information and adjustments.

8. Lock your vehicle while visiting friends and family.

Unfamiliar cars packed with gifts can be very tempting to thieves. Avoid leaving valuables in your car. If necessary, place gifts and other personal items out of sight such as in the trunk.

9. Do not leave burning candles unattended.

Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Be sure the wick ember is no longer glowing. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.

10. Keep cozy ((and safe)) around the fire.

If using a wood burning fireplace or stove, make sure the chimney is clear of obstructions and isn't cracked or deteriorated. Keep your fires small for less smoke. Place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied.

We wish you and your family a very

happy and safe holiday season!

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