The holiday season is steeped in traditions that originated in a world long before warning labels and fire safety commercials. As an insurance agent, I’ve heard holiday horror stories of all kinds: everything from Black Friday shopping injuries to Christmas tree fires, among other things.
They say ‘accidents happen’ but there are steps you can take to enjoy your beloved rituals without risking a home fire or your personal safety. Here are four potentially risky traditions, along with a few holiday safety tips, to keep your family out of harm’s way.
Flickering candlelight looks beautiful, but real candles should never be used on or near a Christmas tree (the earliest Christmas trees were illuminated by candles). Even Christmas lights can pose a fire safety problem. Frayed wires left unattended can overheat, turning a dry tree into a raging inferno in just seconds. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause over 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage.
Safety tip: Decorating for Christmas shouldn’t be a hazard. Only use electric lights that are rated for Christmas trees and tested by a recognized laboratory (you’ll usually find a sticker noting the laboratory’s approval on the cord), and keep your tree well watered to reduce flammability.
Beware the turkey fryer! Crisp, fried turkey may taste delicious, but splattered hot oil can easily start a serious house fire or burn anyone nearby. In addition to the danger of splattering oil igniting flammable objects nearby, the oil itself can overheat and catch fire.
Safety tip: If fried turkey is part of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition, consider these fire safety tips: don’t overfill a fryer with oil (leave enough room to avoid spills when you add the turkey); never put a frozen turkey directly in hot oil; or, use an infrared fryer to safely cook your bird instead.
Crawling onto the roof to string lights or set up Santa’s sleigh sends nearly 5,800 people to the hospital emergency room each year, according to a study by Electrical Safety Foundation International. Accidental falls from the roof or an unstable ladder can result in broken bones, concussions or even something worse.
Safety tip: If possible, avoid climbing onto the roof to set up holiday decor. If you must use a ladder, make sure it is securely positioned, and ask another adult to hold it for you. Children should never climb ladders.
Scoring a door-buster deal on Black Friday is an annual tradition for many American shoppers. Lining up and racing into a store right when it opens, however, can be extremely dangerous. Every year, there are reports of people being trampled by over-eager shoppers.
Stay safe: Many stores are now staggering door-buster deals over several hours. Skip the stampede and arrive later in the day; no shopping savings are worth risking injury.
Allstate agent Lisa Faina, of Cooper City, FL, was featured as a safety and prevention expert in a holiday safety segment airing on the Lifetime TV network program, “Designing Spaces.” The holiday segment featured host Rhonda Castagna interviewing Faina about holiday safety tips for car and home. We asked Lisa to share some of her advice with The Allstate Blog. [11.19.12]