Throwing that extra log on the fire; stringing the house with decorative lights; and hosting a holiday party — those are a few of the joys of the holidays that can also result in large problems, noted Dan Olmsted, president of Atlantic Mutual.
“Traditions make the season special,” Olmsted stated. “But they also present unique risks. Fortunately, common sense and good risk management can help prevent accidents from spoiling your holiday cheer.”
Atlantic Mutual, an insurance company that specializes in serving affluent customers, offers insights for homeowners to minimize the safety risks that come with the holidays.
— For guests who have had one drink too many, call a cab or arrange a ride home. The customs and pressures of the season may lead house guests to drink more than normal. Nobody wants a friend or relative to get hurt. “Host liquor liability” laws can hold homeowners financially responsible for guests who become impaired and cause an accident.
— Keep walkways clear for seasonal guests. Delivery carriers, carolers, and friends bringing cookies — one can never tell when someone is going to drop by during the holidays. Ice, snow and rain can create hazards. Keep pathways clear and well-lit, and trim overhead branches that may get weighted down with snow or ice.
— Make sure home exits are cleared. Six inches of snow makes for a
beautiful white Christmas. It also may mean the kids cannot push open the back door in the event of a fire.
— Practice fireplace safety. Don’t dispose of decorative evergreens by
burning them in the fireplace. Keep the fireplace covered with
protective glass doors or screening. Use hard woods (eg., oak) instead of soft woods (eg., pine and other evergreens), which generate residue that can stick inside the chimney and catch fire. Have the chimney cleaned and checked every year.
— Don’t leave kitchen appliances unattended. Dashing out for pumpkin-pie mix while the coffee maker is on can be hazardous. A smoke condition caught in two minutes by a smoke alarm can become a fire in 10. Likewise, don’t leave Christmas tree lights plugged in while not home.
— Never leave candles burning in an unattended room. Candles on
bookshelves and around the house look attractive, but they might fall
or generate enough heat several inches above the flame to cause a fire.
— Check extension cords and other wiring for wear. Family heirloom
decorations with wiring from a bygone era represent a special risk. The insulation on extension cords and holiday lights stored in an attic or basement may have degraded due to folding and extremes of heat and cold.
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