The Holidays Are Right Around the Corner: Holiday Mishaps That Are Covered by Insurance
The holidays are meant to be filled with joy. However, it also introduces some new elements that can lead to holiday mishaps, including fire hazards. While we all do our best to stay safe over the holidays, there might be some hidden dangers lurking in your home during the holidays you might not notice. Here we look at holiday mishaps covered by your home insurance with tips on avoiding them.
Christmas Tree Fires
This is probably a better-known holiday mishap, but you might think it is less likely today. Grant you it isn’t as risky as the days of using candles for lights or those older unsafe holiday lights we remember as kids. However, tree fires can occur for many reasons. To avoid these risks, make sure your lights are new and approved. You can also use these tips:
- Buy a fresh tree without any brown needles or needles that are falling off when touched.
- Make sure artificial trees are not made of flammable materials
- Cut two inches off the trunk so the tree can absorb water to stay fresh
- Keep the tree at least three feet away from heat, flames, lamps, radiators, space heaters, etc.
- Keep the tree stand filled with water
- Do not use candles on or near the tree
- If the tree is noticeably shedding needles, it should be disposed of as soon as possible.
Holiday Light Fires
Trees are not the only risk for fires. Holiday lights themselves can also cause fires. Follow these tips to reduce risk:
- Only use certified holiday lights
- Make sure lights are designated for outdoor use when hanging them outside
- Don’t use lights with broken bulbs or frayed wires
- Do not overload power strips
- Use power strips with surge protection
- Do not leave lights on at bedtime or when you leave your home
- Make sure extension cords are designed for outdoor use for your exterior light displays
- Choose low-heat LED strip lights, especially when placing them on your tree or outside on shrubs and bushes
- Do not lay outdoor extension cords in water or on dry grass
- Do not use lights on dead trees or shrubs
These tips will help reduce the risk for light-related fires and accidents.
Many criminals choose the holidays for their break-ins, as they can easily access expensive gifts under the tree. Keep all your receipts, so if the unthinkable happens, you have a record of these purchases. Some tips to make it more difficult for thieves during the holiday season include:
- Never run extension cords through a window or door for holiday lights and other holiday displays, as this makes it very easy for burglars to break-in
- Don’t display your holiday tree in the front window, as thieves will see where the gifts are located
- Don’t announce holiday plans on social media, as this tells burglars when you won’t be home
- Don’t put boxes outside for garbage pickup such as electronics, as prowlers will see you have brand new high ticket items to steal.
- Don’t leave notes on your door for couriers, such as telling them to go the delivery around back, as thieves will read the instructions and know where to look.
- Pick up all deliveries off your front porch as soon as possible or plan to be home to receive them.
In most cases, items lost due to break-ins are covered by home insurance. As long as you have proof of your purchases, you might consider speaking to your insurance company to get extra coverage if you buy something particularly expensive, such as jewellery, art, vehicles, or electronics.
Candles, of course, are very popular over the holidays. They are always dangerous when left unattended, so be sure you always keep an eye on candles or blow them out when you leave the room. Candle fires are covered by insurance unless it can be shown they were left unattended. Some tips to avoid candle fires include:
- Use glass or metal candle holders
- Do a sweep of the house before you leave or go to bed to ensure all candles are out.
- Keep candles safely away from pets and children.
- Place candles at least three feet away from anything, especially trees, beds, curtains, holiday decorations, etc.
- Don’t let candles burn shorter than two inches.
- Never place candles directly on any surface in the home without a holder
- Make sure candles can’t be touched by the hair or clothing
- Never use candles as outdoor decoration
Although candles provide a lovely ambience and fragrance during the holidays, you want to make sure you practice these safety tips to avoid accidents.
Fireplaces are a major focal point during the holidays. Keep them safe to reduce the risk for accidents and spreading fires with these tips:
- Have a fireplace inspection every fall
- Clean away ash and coals after each fire
- Keep combustible materials at least three feet away, including wood stored for the fire as well as newspapers and magazines.
- Open the flue before starting a fire.
- Don’t close the flue until the fire burns down completely
- Only light fires with matches or lighters, not flammable liquids
- Use a screen or glass doors to avoid embers from escaping
- Only burn dry wood
- Do not burn boxes, holiday décor, holiday trees or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
- Extinguish fires at bedtime or before going out
- Store ash in a metal can outdoors 30 feet from your home and 10 feet from firewood. Keep kids and pets away from the fireplace.
As long as you have regular fireplace inspections and cleanings, and your insurance company is aware that your fireplace accidents should be covered by insurance.
Last but not least, cooking the holiday feast can also lead to fires. Follow these tips:
- Never cook holiday meals overnight such as hams or turkeys
- Never leave food cooking unattended
- Do not deep fry turkeys inside the home or in the garage
- Keep the cooking area free of flammable items
- Never wear baggy clothes when cooking
All of these holiday mishaps tend to be covered by insurance. However, you should speak to your insurance company to make sure you understand what is and isn’t covered by your home insurance.