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Home Care Library

Keeping Your Family Safe This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be filled with joy and happiness, but unfortunately, it is also a time of increased accidents and crime. So here are some holiday safety tips to help you protect your home, children and pets.

Let's start with tips for keeping your home safe during the holidays.


During the holidays, home accidents and crime increase due to changes associated with the holiday season, such as bringing new things into your home and being away from home. Here are 8 tips to help you keep your home and family especially safe during the holiday season:
  1. Always make your home appear occupied to help deter criminals. Keep some lights on, music playing, etc. You can buy inexpensive plug-in timers for these appliances at most any hardware stores (see types, costs, and reviews of plug-in timers).

  2. Do not post your vacation plans on any social media. Posting your travel plans online makes it easy for criminals to target you.

  3. If you are leaving town, be sure to stop your mail or newspaper service, so that they don’t pile up and announce that you are away. And better yet, ask a coworker, friend or neighbor to watch your home and pick up the mail or newspapers for you. Only let these trusted friends know the details of your travel plans.

  4. Also while you are out of town, have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance someone is home.

  5. Do not put empty boxes from expensive gifts on your curb with the trash, as this can advertise to criminals that your home has a new flat screen, Wii system, stereo equipment, etc. Instead, breakdown the boxes and place them by the curb in paper bags.

  6. Be sure your holiday tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves. And of course, place your holiday tree in water or wet sand to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard (helpful accessory: holiday tree holders).

  7. Never place gift wrapping paper in your fireplace, as this can cause noxious fumes or a quickly spreading fire. Also, do not put items such as scrap lumber, vegetation or even parts of a holiday tree into your fireplace, as these can create an excessively large and hot fire that can damage your fireplace and chimney, or suddenly becomes uncontrollable.

  8. And of course, carefully inspect all seasonal lights and electrical cords to be sure there is nothing broken, no frayed wires, etc.



The holidays pose special risks to children, especially in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. Here are 7 tips for helping to keep your children safe during the busy holiday shopping season:
  1. Talk to your kids before you head out. Make a rule that you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you.

  2. Teach your children that if they ever become separated from you, they should look for a "safe person" for help, for example, a mom with kids or a cash register person. With older children, setup an easy-to-find meeting place in case you become separated.

  3. Dress your children in brightly colored clothes to make them easy to spot, and be sure to remember what they are wearing.

  4. Don't use public areas (video arcades, movie theaters, play areas, or other public places) as a “babysitter." Predators are known to look in these places for unsupervised kids.

  5. If possible, find a “family restroom” for your children. If there is not one available and it is not appropriate to take your child into a public restroom with you, then stand outside, and call in as your child enters that “I will be right here outside.” If you yourself need use public facilities and it is not appropriate to bring an older child in with you, then have them wait immediately outside, and talk to them while you are in the bathroom.

  6. Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm manner. Let your children know that it isn't what people look like that makes them unsafe; it's what they ask them to do that makes them unsafe. Kids have been known to leave with a stranger because "he seemed nice" or "she didn't look like a stranger.

  7. Make sure that your children know your cell phone number.


And finally, the holiday season also poses some special risks to your household pets. Here are 10 tips for helping to keep your pet safe during the holiday season:
  1. Decorations such as wreathes, potpourri, candles, glass and plastic should not be left within a pet's reach, especially puppies or kittens. These can contain toxic chemicals or could cause other problems if eaten by your pet. Poinsettias are very dangerous to pets, and the lily plant is highly toxic to cats especially. If a cat chews just ONE leaf, it can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Holly and mistletoe can result in stomach upset or heart rhythm problems.

  2. If you have guests over (especially children), be sure they know not to feed people food to your pets. Onions, grapes, raisins, currants, or chocolate can be deadly alone or contained in foods, or may cause severe problems such as kidney failure, stomach upset, heart irregular rhythms, and seizures.

  3. Avoid putting ornaments on the lower branches of your holiday tree. But if you do, then use ornaments made of wood or metal which will not break if knocked down by your pet or its swinging tail. Avoid using metal ornament hangers, as these small pieces of wire can be easily ingested and be very dangerous.

  4. Cover electric cords - dangers of tripping over them or pulling something down on a pet exist as well as the chew hazard. When you're not home, make sure lights are out and unplugged. If a pet bites into a live wire, it could cause severe shock, as well as a possible fire. Also, should a pet bite down on a glass bulb, you could be looking at a mouth full of glass.

  5. Liquid potpourri might be a nice addition to home ambiance, but it can be especially deadly for cats.

  6. Be very careful tying bows, costumes, bells, etc to your pet, as these can lead to loss of a limb or strangulation.

  7. Snow globes may have toxic antifreeze in them, and if broken and lapped up, can be fatal to pets.

  8. Pet-proof your house during the holidays, including that they can't reach tin foil (which can act like a razor in their stomach if eaten). And remember to keep candy dishes covered or up high, especially foil wrapped candies.

  9. Any tinsel should be out of reach and not on the bottom branches where pets can pull off and eat or get tangled in their mouths. Avoid spun glass, angel hair, and fake snow as these can be bad for your pet's stomach.

  10. And avoid setting off holiday firecrackers and noisemakers around your pet, as these can be very frightening for them.



We hope our holiday safety tips will help you to protect your home, children and pets safe throughout the entire holiday season.

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