Holiday safety tips homeowners

The holiday season is upon on us, and for much of the U.S. this means snow, cuddling up in front the fireplace and untangling last year's strands of lights. However, before purchasing firewood or getting out the ladder to hang decorations, everyone should make sure they have an up-to-date home or renters insurance policy.

Many festive decorations or winter traditions can lead to property damage and injury if people aren't careful. Make sure you take on holiday activities as safely as possible and with an insurer to back you up if something goes wrong.

Avoid fire hazards
Homeowners and renters may not realize it, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more home fires occur during the winter than in any other season. Heating equipment is often involved, so people should be careful with space heaters and both real and fake fireplaces. Only plug one heating device into an outlet at a time and make sure other objects are at least 3 feet away from it on all sides.

A large number of decorations, including candles and string lights, increase the chance of fires in homes as well. It may be exciting to light pine-scented candles or decorate a Christmas tree, but people should take precautions. Never leave candles burning without supervision and keep them away from flammable items. For string lights, people should inspect the strands before plugging them in and throw away any ones with broken cords.

People who enjoy the look and smell of a real Christmas tree or other plants should be aware that dry plants can easily catch fire. All real trees and plants should be watered, and heaters and candles kept away from them.

Be careful outside
Many people hang lights outside during the winter and this can not only create a risk of fire, but also electrocution if they aren't careful. No one should ever staple outdoor lights to their home or nail through the cords. These methods could damage the cord, and may shock someone who comes into contact with lights when they're plugged in. All lights should be certified for outdoor use and be at least 10 feet away from power lines.

Also, many homeowners and renters like to throw holiday parties. People should make sure they clear their walkways of snow and ice and put down salt to ensure visitors are safe walking in and out of the house.

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