The winter holiday season is a joyous time in Georgia, but new data show that it’s also a busy time for insurance claims—especially due to theft.
A new Allstate insurance report reveals that holiday theft claims in Georgia are 14 percent higher than the national average, and that Georgians are more than 50 percent more likely to suffer a theft claim during the holidays than at any other time of the year.
“Breaking out of our routines and making the most of our time with family and friends is what the holidays are all about,” says David Askew, an Allstate agency owner in Columbus. But he also cautions that it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. “Think through potential safety hazards in the home this holiday season,” he advises.
Theft prevention advice
Consider these suggestions from the Atlanta Better Business Bureau on how to avoid being a target of thieves this year:
- Lock doors and windows—especially any time you step out of your home
- Keep holiday gifts out of view from windows and doors
- Take care answering the door. Criminals often pose as deliverymen or door-to-door fundraisers to con you out of money or case your home for a later break-in
- Leave a radio or TV on if you’re away for an extended period, and ask a trusted neighbor to collect deliveries and mail, so it looks like you’re still home. (See Crime Stopper Atlanta’s other great tips on what to do in your home before you leave for a vacation.)
Home fires also a risk
Americans are also at greater risk for holiday-season home fires—the national risk of house fires increases by 15 percent this time of year, according to insurance claims data.
In fact, each year more than 400 fires in homes across the U.S. involve Christmas trees, according to the Marietta Fire Department (MFD). The MFD says that you can reduce the chance of a Christmas tree-related fire by placing your tree away from sources of heat, using only non-combustible decorations (meaning no real candles) and carefully inspecting Christmas lights to help avoid the risk of an electrical fire caused by damaged bulbs or wiring. This last tip applies to outdoor lighting, too.
Also, decorate with children in mind, recommends Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), by making sure that children do not have access to dangerously-small decorations; open flames, exposed electrical wire or heat sources (check out more fire safety tips). Also, CHOA adds to not burn wrapping paper or Christmas tree branches in the home fireplace.
Finally, one other notable way to protect your family and household is by exercising caution when cooking with an open flame. The City of Atlanta Fire Code says that Atlantans can only cook with an open flame at a distance of 10 feet or more from parts of buildings like balconies and garages that could catch on fire and cause the home to be destroyed. This is especially good advice for those deep frying a turkey, which can quickly create a hazardous situation as shown by the professionals at the Cobb County, Ga., fire department.
The holidays are supposed to be a fun, relaxing time spent among family and friends, so consider these tips and speak with your loved ones about how you can help prevent trouble from finding you or your home this season. Whether it’s from theft or a fire, a little prevention could keep your holidays merry and bright.
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