'Tis the season to transform family living spaces with holiday lights, trees, candles, poinsettias and more. To help minimize the risks from accidents associated with this cherished time of year, keep in mind the “3 Ps of holiday decorating,” recommended by the Hanover Insurance Group – prepare, prevent and protect.
- First and foremost, be sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home. Ideally the alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby so you are prepared for a quick response to potential sparks or flames from lights, candles and fireplaces.
- Establish a home fire escape drill that includes two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place.
- Use caution when climbing on ladders to hang lights and decorations. Thousands of people are treated at emergency rooms each year for falls associated with holiday decorating. Be sure someone else is home to assist if something goes wrong.
- Do not connect more than three light strands together. Turn off all holiday lights and decorations when you are not home or when you are asleep. One in three Christmas tree fires is due to an electrical failure.
- If you are lighting candles, and especially candles that must burn continuously, such as a menorah, place them on a tall, sturdy surface like a kitchen counter with a piece of aluminum foil underneath to catch wax drippings or a falling candle. If you must leave a candle unattended, consider placing it in a kitchen sink to minimize risks. Candle fires cause 45 percent of holiday decoration fires.
- Be careful where you place your Christmas tree. One in six tree fires are started when a tree is too close to a heat source. Also, make sure your tree does not block an exit.
- Be sure to use non-flammable or flame resistant decorations.
- Check with your independent insurance agent to ensure your home is adequately covered in the event of a loss. Most experts recommend a policy with a guaranteed replacement cost provision so you can rebuild to the same quality, regardless of rising material or labor costs.
- Some insurance policies cover the cost to recharge or replace a fire extinguisher used to fight a fire in a covered home, with no deductible. This is helpful if you have used your fire extinguisher and want to be sure it is still fully charged.
- Consider an umbrella policy if you plan to host holiday parties in your festively decorated home. Umbrella policies may extend your policy's liability limits, generally by $1 million to $5 million, in the event you are sued by a guest.
"Holiday decorating is one of the best ways to create a festive atmosphere," said Richard W. Lavey, president, Personal Lines at Hanover. "However, some holiday decorations and the task of decorating a home can pose risks and lead to losses and injuries. Fortunately, if you prepare, prevent and protect, you will be more likely to safely enjoy the season in peace."
Source: Hanover Insurance Group