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Simple Holiday Safety Tips

Safety tips to keep your decorating, cooking and gathering safe during the holidays.

The holidays are a time to reconnect with family and friends, but they also can present seasonal safety hazards. Here are some tips to help you keep your home safe this holiday season.

Tips to keep your decorating, shopping and gathering under control.

1. Decorating

  • Emergency rooms treat thousands of patients for decorating injuries in November and December. Some of the most common injuries are falls, lacerations and back strains.
  • Use caution on ladders. Don't stand on chairs or furniture to hang decorations.
  • Keep breakable decorations up high, out of reach of children. Also consider keeping fragile ornaments in a box while your kids are young.
  • Be cautious of fire risks:
    • Check holiday lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Toss any that you find.
    • Keep any candles on a stable surface, out of reach of children or pets, and away from the tree or other flammable objects.
    • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
    • Choose an artificial tree with a 'fire resistant' label or a fresh live tree that has green, sturdy needles.
    • Set up your tree away from fireplaces and vents.

2. Shopping

  • Always park in well-lit areas.
  • Don't leave purchased gifts in plain view - lock them in your trunk.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Only bring credit cards you plan to use.
  • Check your bank statements regularly during the season to spot suspicious activity.

3. Traveling

  • Avoid aggressive and angry driving.
  • Adjust following distance and speed in snowy or icy conditions.
  • Designate a sober driver or arrange for a cab ahead of time if you plan to drink at holiday gatherings.

4. Cooking and Dining

  • Always have a cook in the kitchen. Don't leave stove burners or the oven unattended.
  • Occupy the kids away from the kitchen - too many hot appliances and dangerous utensils.
  • Keep any towels, pot holders and other flammable items away from the stove and other heat sources.
  • Help prevent foodborne illness.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Keep prepared foods away from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  • Cook food thoroughly, using a food thermometer to determine doneness.
  • Internal food temperature should be 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
  • Refrigerate food within two hours at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Ditch leftovers after 4 days.

Proven Need for Holiday Safety

‘Tis the season to trim the tree, and watch the ladder step while you’re at it. The winter holiday season is traditionally a festive time of year filled with colorful decorations and family gatherings. But it is also too often a time of tragedy and loss.

Holiday safety tips to think about

Electrical safety

Between 2011 and 2015, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates an average of 200 home fires, per year, started with Christmas trees. Those fires resulted in six deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in property damage.

  • Avoid electrical fires by purchasing lights from reputable retailers and only those approved by nationally recognized testing labs like US, Intertek, or CSA.
  • Inspect both indoor and outdoor lights for broken sockets, frayed wired and loose connections.
  • Don’t overload outlets with too many electrical devices – this could cause a fire.
  • Our Holiday Fire Safety Tips page has lots more information and Christmas safety tips.

Holiday decorating tips

People falling is a serious concern this time of year. Annually, hospital emergency rooms treat about 5,800 people who are injured from falls involving holiday decorations. And about 4,000 people are treated for injuries that are associated with extension cords. These injuries include contusions, lacerations, fractures or sprains as a result of tripping over the cords. Here are some tips to make your holiday decorating safer:

  • Never use furniture as a ladder.
  • Follow the 1-to-4 rule for extension ladders: for every four feet the ladder rises, move the base out one foot from the structure.
  • Always keep three point of contact on the ladder: two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.

A little fire safety can go a long way

Even with all those Christmas tree fires, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. Most fires occur on Thanksgiving, followed by the day before Thanksgiving and then Christmas day. Here are some holiday fire safety tips:

  • Avoid using candles if possible. Consider using battery-operated ones.
  • Mantels are beautiful when covered with stockings and greenery. But these items are flammable. If you use your fireplace frequently, consider hanging these decorations somewhere else.
  • Be sure to check the Christmas tree – make sure it’s got plenty of water and it isn’t near heat sources.
  • When cooking, pay close attention to what you’re doing and your surroundings.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Be sure you have smoke detectors at least 10 feet from your stove, and test them monthly.
  • Check out more kitchen safety tips.

Preventing poisoning, and a few other tips, during the holidays

The risk of poisoning also increases during the holiday period, resulting not only from common household items, but also carbon monoxide (CO). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that the majority of CO deaths occur in the colder months of November through February. Here are more tips:

  • Be sure your child doesn't have access to dangerous plants. Mistletoe, holly berries and Jerusalem cherries can be poisonous if consumed in large amounts.
  • Those small button batteries found in toys, remotes, and the like, are VERY dangerous so make sure children don’t swallow them.
  • Tiny magnets are also dangerous if swallowed.

Check out these articles for safe holiday travel and some tips to help your holidays go right.

State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates) is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites hyperlinked from this page. State Farm has no discretion to alter, update, or control the content on the hyperlinked, third party site. Access to third party sites is at the user's own risk, is being provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products which may be referenced on such third party sites.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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