The holiday season brings with it traditional home gatherings with neighbors and family who share traditional meals and recipes. Unfortunately, it also brings the potential for injury and home damage from lighting and decorations, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s affiliated insurance company.
“Homeowners need to be aware that the party planning needs to include a dash of risk management as well,” said Miranda Martinez, product manager of insurance products. “Minor defects or peculiarities that we have grown accustomed to in our own home may cause a guest to misstep.”
Special lighting, if not handled correctly, may ignite a fire, added Martinez. Each year, more than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees, resulting in 40 deaths and 100 injuries, according to the National Safety Council.
The Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club recommends that homeowners take the following precautions to ensure that their festivities have the recipe for success:
— Keep sidewalks and walkways clear of decorations. Repair any cracks in walkways or loose steps and make sure walkways aren’t slippery.
— At holiday gatherings, remember that dogs pose risks for small children and may make some adults uncomfortable. Consider confining dogs to areas that won’t be used by guests. If visiting a home with a dog, don’t leave one’s child alone with the animal.
— Check each set of decorative lights for frayed wires, broken bulbs, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets. String no more than three sets of lights together per extension cord. Never place cords or lights behind drapes, under carpets or across walkways. Always turn off the lights when leaving the house and before going to bed each night.
— Use a screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
— Extinguish candles when they burn down to two inches above the holder. If buying a cut tree, check the needles to make sure it’s fresh and water it daily. Keep the tree away from heat vents and the fireplace.
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