It is the time of year when we are spending well earned time with family and friends, celebrating the holiday season. You may need to travel long distances to visit family, or may only need to make small trips around town. Either way, you should take steps to make sure you have a safe holiday season. Here are some things to consider when planning for a safe holiday.

Reduce The Fire Hazard

Fires can unfortunately start from a variety of sources, including: cooking equipment; faulty electrical wiring; holiday decorations (such as Christmas lights); and candles. Often these items are in greater use during holiday season. Here are some tips to avoid fire accidents:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your house and outside bedroom areas. Make sure to perform smoke testing on a monthly basis.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher for the kitchen and place in a location unreachable by children.
  • Remove clutter from both the counter and stove, such as: wooden spoons, mitts, tea towels and kitchen wipes.
  • Always use the timer to remind you of food cooking or baking while unattended.
  • Heat cooking oil over low to medium heat. When deep frying or boiling water, make sure the pot or pan is only half-filled. Do not pour water on burning oil. Put a heavy cover to kill the fire. Keep a bowl of salt nearby to douse open flames.
  • Store flammable chemicals outside the house, preferably in a garden shed with a sturdy lock.
  • Use high quality christmas lights and extension cords. Do not overload any electrical circuits.
  • For your holiday decoration, choose LED lights for lower energy use and reduced fire hazard, and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • When dealing with fire prevention, keeping your presence of mind and common sense is very important. Always read user manuals before using new electrical appliances and gadgets.

How to Protect Your Home from Burglary

Home invasions go up during the holiday season because people tend to be away much more often. Unfortunately, some people use the holiday season to take advantage of others. Remember these tips to protect your home:

  • Regularly inspect the locks on your exterior doors to make sure all are in good working conditions. Do the same with your windows.
  • Install adequate outdoor lighting around the house. Set timers to put on a couple of lights both inside and outside each night. Always keep the curtains closed.
  • Consider installing an alarm system to protect your house.
  • Always shred important papers before disposal.
  • Teach everyone how to call 911 and how to give accurate information, even the youngest family member.
  • Keep only a small amount of cash and valuable jewelry inside your home and keep it within a hidden safe. Let the bank safety deposit box store most of your worldly possessions.
  • When leaving your home empty for several days, ask a trusted neighbor or nearby relative to collect deliveries like mail, flyers and newspapers. Alternatively, have the post office keep your mail and stop newspaper delivery until you return. Neighbors or relatives should also check inside your home for anything unusual, such as a power failure or leaking water. If your home is empty during the winter, your insurance requires that your home be checked daily, from top to bottom, to ensure the heat is on and the water pipes have not frozen.
  • Cyber theft is rampant these days Always log off from websites you accessed using passwords. When not in use, switch off the internet Wi-Fi as well.

Happy holidays from the First General team. We hope it is a safe and joyful time of year for you.

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