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

A woman presents a holiday turkey to her family at the dinner table for Christmas

The festive season is 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 during the festivities.

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 adhere to fire safety within the home:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher and first-aid kit, and ensure everyone in your home knows where these items are and how to use them.
  • Know where the fire exits are if you live in a condominium or apartment building.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep. Some candles have burn limits of no more than two or three hours. Check the instructions and follow the guidelines.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire and use sturdy candle holders.
  • 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-resistant 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 finished. 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 accredited by a 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.
  • Avoid skidding by driving for the 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.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, be aware of public health guidelines around hosting or attending large holiday parties this year. If you do have guests visit your home, consider the option to wear a face mask and encourage others to wash their hands frequently to help prevent the risk of infection.

Happy holidays!