Remember to avoid frayed wiring when putting up your holiday lights both outside and on the tree. Photo By: Laura Bittner via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Study: Texas Home Fires and Thefts Spike During the Holidays

The holidays are undoubtedly a time for celebration, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down at

Diana Wickman, Allstate Agent
Diana Wickman, Allstate Agent

home amid the festivities. According to a new claims study and consumer survey by Allstate, home fires surge by 23 percent and thefts increase by nine percent in Texas during the holiday season. Holiday parties, travel, and other changes in your usual routine can make your abode more susceptible to common hazards, explains Garland Allstate Agent Diana Wickman.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities,” she says, “so use caution and remember to think through potential safety hazards.”

While there’s no need to give up your holiday festivities, the tips below can help you avoid some of the most frequent home hazards this season.

Preventing Fire

With 54 percent of Texas homeowners responding that they change their cooking and decorating habits during the holidays, it’s perhaps no surprise that fire claims also increase during this time period. (Turkey fryer claims cost $29,000 on average, according to the Allstate study!) The Houston Fire Department recommends the following tips to prevent holiday fires:

Keep Christmas trees in a water-filled base, at least three feet from any source of heat. Remember to dispose of your tree as soon as the holidays are over, since dried-out trees can catch fire.

Never leave holiday lights and candles unattended (including while you’re asleep). Avoid lights with frayed wiring and try using smaller bulbs (which use less heat). Candles should be secured in a base that can fully contain melted hot wax.

Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages. Keep the fryers away from anything that might burn, and remember that the oil stays hot for hours after cooking. For these reasons, the fryer should never be left unattended, and children and pets should be kept away.

Avoiding Theft

The Houston Police Department offers a variety of tips designed to minimize the potential of a burglary in your home, including ways to minimize risk while you’re traveling or away from home. Consider the following:

Keep your home looking lived-in when you’re away. Have the grass cut, mail and newspapers picked up, and lights set to turn on and off periodically using inexpensive timers.

Never leave notes on your door that may reveal your home is unoccupied. This is especially important when expecting deliveries, for example, as 69 percent of Texas respondents in the Allstate survey say they leave delivered packages outside their door.

Engrave valuables with your drivers license number or other identifying number (but not your Social Security number). If your home is burglarized and the property is later recovered by police, this number can help police identify the property as yours.

Take pictures and keep an inventory of your valuables. An itemized list of everything you own can simplify the process if you ever need to file a claim. By taking some simple precautions, you can minimize much of your home’s risk and eliminate some of the hectic holiday season’s stress.

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