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A service of your agent and the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

Whether you haven’t yet taken down your Halloween decorations or you’re assembling your seventeenth gingerbread house of this season, it’s time once again to consider the safety issues surrounding many favorite winter holidays.

There are many things that can brighten the holidays. One light source that you may want to include only selectively is fire.

You may be cooking or baking more than usual. No matter how much you do, be sure to keep kids and flammable items like kitchen towels away from the stove and oven. Clean up any grease as you go.

Preparing to bring a live tree into your home? If so, choose one full of green needles that don’t fall off when you touch them and are difficult to pull from branches. Trees need to be watered daily! Don’t plug together more than three strands of lights; use a power strip instead. Throw away any strands that look worn, frayed, or broken, and always unplug all the electrical items connected to your tree before leaving home or going to bed.

Maybe you’re readying a candelabra to celebrate the holidays. You can use traditional candles instead of electrical ones, but be smart about it. Keep flammable items at least three feet from your candles, and put the candelabra on a non-flammable surface (we like to line a tray with aluminum foil in our house). Make sure each candle is standing firmly in its holder and put your candelabra in a spot where it can’t easily be knocked down by children, pets, or careless adults. Never leave lit candles unattended.

If your holiday season coincides with the arrival of winter weather, and you just want to curl up in front of a cozy, warm fire with your family, be careful. Keep flammable items at least 3 feet from the fireplace, and use a fire screen to prevent embers from escaping into the room. Make sure the fire is completely out before you go to sleep.

Finally, some ideas that make sense year-round: make an emergency plan to use if there’s a fire in your home, and stick to the plan if you have an emergency. Avoid wearing loose, flowing clothing around open flames, whether they’re from a fireplace, stove, or candelabra. Of course, the safest way to avoid holiday fire hazards is to pass on using real fire in your celebrations.

Sources: American Red Cross; U.S. Fire Administration; U.S. Product Safety

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