As families spend more time at home and decorate earlier this holiday season, AAA East Central reminds residents to protect their homes and themselves from holiday dangers like fires and break-ins.
Roughly three-quarters of Christmas tree fires occur in December or January, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Between 2013 and 2017, the latest figures available, fire departments across the country responded to an average of 160 house fires each year that started with Christmas trees, according to NFPA statistics. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in property damage annually.
“Fires are unfortunately common this time of year, and burglaries and robberies are particularly emotionally scaring,” says Mark Sisson, vice president of Insurance, AAA East Central. “Even something as simple as not leaving empty online shopping boxes outside prior to trash day can go a long way.”
AAA East Central tips to reduce the likelihood of fire:
Trees and Menorahs
- Make sure your holiday tree is fresh and green when you buy it. Water daily as dry trees are a fire hazard.
- Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to flip over.
- Use battery-operated candles, not wax candles, in holiday decorations. Candles start almost half of home decoration fires.
- Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Place Menorah’s on non-flammable surfaces.
- Do not let children play with wiring or lights, and teach kids about fire safety.
Exterior decorations and safety
- Outside the home, inspect all outdoor lights and decorations for damage. Do not use if lights are damaged or wires are frayed.
- Do not block the front door entrance or patio doors with decorations.
- Do not store firewood against the home or other structures. Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your house.
- Make sure your home is accessible to emergency vehicles.
More fire safety tips
- Be particularly careful when using heating items such as space heaters.
- Smoke alarms are a key part of home fire safety. Make sure to have smoke alarms in bedrooms as well as main living areas of the house.
- Remain in the kitchen while holiday cooking or baking. Fires in the kitchen occur frequently during the holidays.
Home burglaries spike during the weeks leading up to the holidays, when thieves are tempted by homes full of gifts. A homeowner loses an average of $2,416 in possessions and damages in a home burglary, according to U.S. Dept. of Justice statistics.
Holiday home break-ins are easily preventable by locking all doors and windows. But according to home security surveys, 64 percent of homeowners and renters don’t lock their doors and windows before leaving home. Additional devices like window locks and sliding door rods block burglary attempts. Pet door locks also block entry via small pet entrances.
AAA tips to prevent home burglaries
- If you shop online, don’t leave the empty boxes outside prior to trash day. This can signal to potential thieves that a treasure trove awaits them inside your home.
- Make sure holiday gifts, expensive electronics, and other valuables are not visible from outside your windows.
- Lock all doors and windows before you leave to shop or run errands, including your garage and side doors.
- If possible, install a monitored alarm system in your home with visible signs. You may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium after the system is installed.
- Video cameras, driveway motion detectors, and smart home doorbells can be theft deterrents.
- Make sure your dog or pet door is locked and cannot be used by a thief to enter your home.
Home Insurance tips
- Make sure your home insurance is up to date and provides adequate coverage fi you own luxury goods, jewelry, and electronics.
- Check to see if you need an additional rider or floater insurance policy for those items from the Auto Club or other insurance representatives.