Whether we are splurging on loved ones or lucky enough to be given an expensive present, one thing many of us do not think about is how it affects our safety. With break-ins on the rise during the season, this could be a very expensive mistake!
Carefully inspect Christmas light strings and discard any with frayed cords or loose connections. When replacing bulbs, unplug the light string and be sure to match voltage and wattage to the original bulb. Additionally, when purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights and/or electrical decorations, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.
Never connect more than one extension cord together; instead use a single cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled. When hanging outdoor lights, make sure they are for outside use. Keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Use insulated tape or plastic clips instead of metal nails or tacks to hold them in place.
Use a ladder to put up lights at a height. Always ensure that you choose the correct ladder for the job and double check for a certification mark to ensure your portable ladder complies with applicable standards.
Leave the light on: Not the most eco-friendly advice, but the more it looks like someone is home, the less likely it is that someone will try to break-in to your home. Many homeowners use a timer on their lights to alleviate the worry of having to remember to put on and take off lights. There are also various home automation and smartphone interactive management tools available from many security systems today, which allows you to turn your off and on the lights throughout the day and night to keep up appearances that someone is home.
Ensure you have adequate lighting around the property. The last thing a burglar wants is to be spotted while attempting to break into your home. Install outdoor motion detector lights that are triggered any time someone approaches your home at night. Again, setting a timer for indoor lights if you will be away from home for an extended period of time, is a good way to give the impression that someone is at home.
Fires are a risk in the kitchen year-round, but we are even more distracted by entertaining guests and family this time of year. Stay in the kitchen when cooking and always keep an eye on the stove, oven or grill. Keep oven mitts, dish towels and other flammable items away from heating elements and open flames. Test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work, and be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home -- especially near sleeping areas.
Clean the Clutter! Be careful when storing combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags, and cleaning products. Gasoline or propane cylinders should be stored outside the home.
Be discreet when disposing of packages. One of the easiest ways for thieves to tell if there are valuables is from leftover packing in your trash sitting on the curb. A quick glance and they’ll know what they will find inside. If you purchased a brand new TV or computer, break the packaging down and conceal it as much as possible. You may also want to wait to dispose of packing until the day trash is collected so it does not linger around and give would-be burglars any incentive.
Minimize visibility from the street. Another mistake homeowners make is leaving a mound of expensive gifts underneath the Christmas tree right in front of a window. If these items are visible from the street, potential burglars will not have to make much effort to case your home. Either keep your curtains or blinds closed or position your Christmas tree so it is not easily seen from the street. You may also simply want to wait until Christmas Eve before you place presents under the tree.
Be careful with social media posting. If you are going to be out of town for the season, you should use caution with how much information you divulge on your social media accounts.
Christmas is a season of good times and good cheer. Taking the right precautions and preventative measures should keep your home safe.