It’s been a long and tumultuous 2021, and we at Lane’s are hopeful everyone gets time to rest and relax this holiday season. Unfortunately, however, even though the idea is to have fun, statistics say that accidents are more common while people are celebrating. According to the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 80,000 Britons end up in the emergency room over the Christmas season, and 6,000 of those end up spending some time in the hospital.
Avoid an injury, and a home insurance claim, by taking a few extra moments to pay attention to potential hazards and do your best to avoid them. That extra time can help ensure a safe and happy holiday season.
Christmas tree safety tips
We all love the smell of a natural Christmas tree, but they must be carefully cared for. As they begin to dry out, which is inevitable, the possibility of a fire increases. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that between 2014 and 2018, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires originating with Christmas trees per year, causing about $10 million in direct property damage annually. Of those, close to half were caused by lights, and 20% were caused because of an open flame.
Reduce the chance of a devastating holiday accident with your Christmas tree:
- Choose a fresh tree. Look for one with needles that are still relatively pliable and that do not fall off easily.
- The trunk should be freshly sawed off to allow for better water absorption.
- Place your tree in a large, stable, and secure stand and ensure it cannot be tipped over easily.
- Keep the water level above the cut end of the tree.
- Do not place the tree near a heat source or an open flame.
- The tree should be tucked away so that it does not create a tripping and falling hazard.
- Once the needles begin dropping on the floor, it’s time to dispose of it.
If you live in a condo, it’s more than likely your building does not allow live Christmas trees, due both to their potential to start a fire and the mess is creates when throwing them out. A Christmas tree fire in your condo may not be covered and could be devastating for you and your neighbours.
When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, ensure it is made out of flame-retardant materials and is CSA-approved.
Be extremely careful when decorating your tree, too, whether it’s real or artificial. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reveals that 1,000 Britons are hurt each year while decorating their Christmas tree, usually while trying to reach the highest branches. Another survey showed that putting up decorations is dangerous, too, with 2.6 million people falling while using unstable chairs or stools. Use a ladder, follow its directions, and have someone assist.
Most common holiday hazards in the home
A holiday accident is most often caused by carelessness and a lack of attention to detail. These common holiday hazards can result in an incident that was completely preventable in the first place.
- Fires caused by fireplaces, candles, and inattention in the kitchen.
- Fires caused by overloaded outlets or older decorations that spark, or arc, due to frayed cords, loose connections, and outdated safety features.
- Fires caused by older string lights, or string lights not in full working order.
- Electrical cords and decorations causing tripping risks.
- Snow and ice causing a slip and fall.
Leaving for a few days?
Whether you’re packing up the skis and the kids to hit the hills for a few days or you’re off to see family for a couple weeks, don’t forget to have someone check on your property while you’re away. Home insurance policies stipulate that homes must be regularly visited by a “competent” person while they are unoccupied. Times frames vary: some companies will allow for a home to remain empty for up to 30 days, others introduce exclusions after as little as four days. Policies will also stipulate how often they expect your property to be visited. If you fail to have your home checked within the permissible timeframe, if something like a plumbing malfunction causing a flood happens you risk having your claim denied.
Check your home insurance policy carefully. In some cases, if you turn off the water main to your home you may not need to have someone come by, or they may not have to come by as often. Owning a security system could also make a difference. A Wi-Fi-connected system that automatically alerts a security company if your property is accessed when it shouldn’t be provides additional peace of mind. The more state-of-the-art security systems include home monitoring options that can control the your lights and room temperatures, signal the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide, and sense an increase in humidity and water. Choose a system with “crash and smash” protection, so someone can’t break into your home, destroy the control panel and deactivate your system. Choosing the right security system might also result in a discount on your home insurance.
Additional holiday tasks to remember before leaving:
- If you don’t have a security system, use motion detectors and timers. Motion detectors are a great way to surprise unwanted guests on your property. Place them high and out of reach so they can’t be disabled. Also place several interior lights on randomly patterned timers.
- Ensure all the doors and windows are locked securely.
- Bring the hidden spare keys inside.
- Don’t post your plans on social media. It’s tempting to share the view from the top of the mountain, but remember that as safe as you think your accounts are, you never know who might be looking in. Even if you are just at a party or get-together, it’s still not wise to point out your absence. Wait until you are back home to post pics of the fun you had.
- Unplug major electronics to protect them from a surge.
- Put your valuables in your safety deposit box. If you don’t have a safety deposit box, the next best thing is a safe. The longer a burglar stays in your home, the higher their chances of being caught, so it’s unlikely they will bother to try to “crack” your safe.
- Turn down the thermostat to help save on power bills.
- Stop your mail (if you still have home delivery) and keep your walk shoveled.
All the best from us at Lane’s
All of us at Lane’s wish you a safe and happy next few weeks free from a holiday accident. If you have any questions about your current home insurance, our experienced brokers at Lane’s are here to help you work through your policy and discover additional options that will benefit your coverage and potentially even provide savings. We work with the best insurance companies to provide unmatched benefits for our clients.
Give yourself the gift of satisfaction in knowing that your home and valuables are completely covered. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Alberta offices today to discuss all aspects of your home insurance policy in Alberta.