During holiday shopping trips, be wary of potential thieves -- park in well-lit areas and cover the holiday gifts that may be in your car. Photo By: vxla via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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New Report: Home Fires, Sewer Backups Spike in CO Over Holidays

Without a doubt, the holidays are a time of great joy around here. The Rockies wear a heavy blanket of white, the mile-high air boasts a crisp freshness, and everywhere you look, twinkling lights, jolly music and colorful shopping displays herald the onset of that most magical of seasons.

Yet the holidays also are a time of increased risk for trouble: According to a new claims report from Allstate, holiday season claims in Colorado are 10 percent more likely than the national average. Of course, it may not feel very festive to consider the threat of house fires, thefts and even sewer back-ups this time of year, but a bit of preparation can be priceless. Nothing will ruin those happy holiday memories faster than a crisis at home, or while out shopping.

“Breaking out of our routines and making the most of our time with family and friends is what the holidays are all about,” said Phil George, territory sales leader for Allstate. “It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, so Allstate is reminding homeowners to use caution and remember to think through potential safety hazards in the home this holiday season.”

Fire

The likelihood of house fires in Colorado spikes even more than thefts during the holiday season — increasing 15 percent, according to the Allstate data.

Holiday lights, combustible decorations, lit candles, potentially dry Christmas trees, holiday cooking, winter heating appliances and parties where people are imbibing alcoholic beverages and smoking cigars or cigarettes can all cause accidental fires.

The Denver Fire Department offers holiday fire safety tips,  that include the right way to choose, decorate, maintain and clean-up a live Christmas tree; how to correctly use candles and outdoor lights; how to entertain safely; and how to safely use fireplaces, furnaces and heating appliances, particularly space heaters, over the season. A few particular items of interest include:

  • Do not purchase your Christmas tree early, or leave it up longer than two weeks.
  • Never use more than three strands of tree lights linked together, and take care not to overload extension cords.
  • Do not use indoor lights outdoors, or vice versa.
  • Dispose of your tree properly. Denver’s Treecycle program runs Jan. 6-17.
  • Never use electric lights on the old metal artificial trees, which are now popular again among the retro crowd.
  • Make sure someone always keeps an eye on the stove during holiday meal or party preparations. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Remove ashes from your stove or fireplace regularly (remember, they can stay hot for several days).

Theft

According to the Allstate data for the Centennial State, theft is the most likely holiday-related peril; in fact, it increases by 8 percent during the holiday season. Many of these incidents can happen away from the home, when you’re out doing your holiday shopping. In 2011, the Denver Police Department released its Holiday Shopping Safety Tips to help reduce the risk of theft in these scenarios. These include:

  • Don’t shop alone, especially at night. Make the trip with friends or family members.
  • Park near the store in a well-lit area. Avoid dark, secluded spots.
  • Lock your car and keep the windows closed.
  • Avoid one large trip, making several small trips instead. Carrying large numbers of packages and bags to your car can make you a target.
  • Have your keys out and ready to be used when you return to your car.
  • Hide packages in the trunk. If you have a hatchback-style car or SUV, use the extendable/removable cover to conceal what you’re carrying.

And Yes, Even the Sewer …

Allstate survey data says holiday pressures and changes in routines can also lead to trouble at home. And yes, that does include the plumbing. Believe it or not, even sewer backups are 15 percent more likely during the holiday season.

The key is to be vigilant—don’t pour cooking oils down the sink; be sure toilet paper is the only thing gets flushed; and don’t get so swept up in all the holiday frivolity that routine maintenance and safety measures get ignored.

“It’s natural to get excited and go the extra mile to make this time special for your loved ones,” says Allstate’s Phil George, “but also beware of potential mishaps and protect your holiday home with these simple tips to make the very most of this season.”


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