Tips to Keep Your Holiday Season Safe at Home and on the Road

christmas party at home-min.jpg

The festive season is nearly here! It’s a time for flickering, coloured lights, wintry weather, and rosy cheeks. With all the excitement and joy the holidays bring, it’s important to have safety top-of-mind and keep your family safe at home and on the road.

Here are a few tips to prevent accidents at home or when driving, and avoid filing a home insurance or auto insurance claim:

Fire safety

How to use candles and fire safely within your home:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. Ensure everyone in your home knows where these items are.
  • If you live in a condominium or apartment building, know where the fire exits are.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire and use sturdy candle holders and place on top of secure furniture.
  • If you have a real holiday tree at home, water it daily, and keep it away from heat sources and high traffic areas.
  • If you have an artificial holiday tree, ensure it is certified as fire-resistent and keep it away from heat sources like a fireplace, heating vent, and candles.
  • Use a secure, manufacturer recommended fire screen in front of your fireplace.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
  • Burn clean hardwood that has not been painted or chemically treated.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking and turn off the stove and oven when you’re done. Also, be careful when cooking with oil to deep-fry foods. Try using a temperature-controlled skillet or deep-fat fryer appliance.

Light safety

Be cautious when decorating your home with lights:

  • Use lights that have the mark of an accredited certification agency such as CSA, C-UL, or cETL. It may be worthwhile to check the federal government’s Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Database before buying or using lights to find out about the latest recalls.
  • Use indoor lights inside your home and outdoor lights outside.
  • Check all light bulbs before going up and replace broken or burned-out bulbs.
  • Inspect the light strings and extension cords you use. Throw out damaged ones.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Use a power bar for multiple wires.
  • Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed or leaving home.

Road safety

Be cautious on the roads this winter during the busy holiday season:

  • Be alert, well-rested, and sober behind the wheel. Avoid driver distractions such as using a mobile device while driving.
  • See and be seen. Clear all snow and ice from the hood, roof, windows, headlights and taillights of your vehicle.
  • Check weather and travel conditions before heading out. Give yourself extra time for travel and, if the weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve.
  • If a situation can’t wait, pull over somewhere safe to deal with it.
  • Skids can best be avoided by driving for conditions, slowing down, leaving earlier to get to your destination and anticipating lane changes, turns, and curves.
  • Proper braking is essential to survive on the road in winter. The best way to stop on a slippery surface is to use threshold or controlled braking and shift to neutral.
  • Stopping on a slippery surface requires more space, so increase your following distance. Focus your attention as far ahead as possible while driving.

2020 is unlike any year we’ve been through before because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is advisable to avoid hosting or attending large holiday parties this year. But if you do have guests visit your home, ensure everyone wears a face mask and washes their hands frequently to help prevent the risk of infection.

Happy holidays!

(Sources: The Insurance Bureau of Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)