Ask the Expert: Holiday Safety Tips For Your Home

While candles kindle a holiday mood, take care to avoid their placement in proximity to other flammable objects.

Decorating, shopping, traveling, even lighting a fire – all of these holiday related activities bring cheer at this time of year. However, they also bring hazards with them. With all of the hustle and bustle, it’s important not to overlook some of the dangers that exist for our homes. Here are some tips that has to offer as well as a few other freebies that can come in handy this holiday season.

First off, while candles may look pretty and inviting, make sure not to put any candles near trees, curtains or anything that will burn.  Also, since the heat from the bulbs of holiday lights can potentially lead to a fire, make sure to keep your tree hydrated by watering it daily to help prevent it from getting too dry. It’s also smart to inspect your light cords to make sure they don’t have frayed or broken wires as this can lead to fires as well. If you have to replace any bulbs make sure they are the same wattage and voltage as the rest of the strand. Finally, don’t leave your holiday lights on when your home is unattended.

Let’s face it, shopping is another activity that brings some people joy and others to tears. Either way, there are some precautions you should take. For one thing, try to keep your splendidly wrapped gifts away from windows as it could tempt burglars to smash the window and make off with your goods. Also, when shopping, keep gifts out of sight in car trunks. Many people are shopping online this season too. Make sure to track package deliveries and retrieve them as soon as they arrive. At this time of year, prowlers tend to swipe packages so don’t let yourself fall victim to that.

If traveling, don’t post travel plans online; you are letting people know when your home will be empty. Also, tell a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your place and collect mail and newspapers. That way it won’t look like your home is unattended. Consider setting a timer for an interior light or two so that the home doesn’t look vacant.

Should you be in mood to build a fire, make sure the flue damper in the chimney is totally open.  If it’s not, smoke will fill the house. I’ve been to enough home inspections to know that a damper clamp (or C-Clamp) is around $10 and vitally important.

Finally, if you haven’t done so in awhile, check to ensure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning properly.

Using these tips will hopefully keep your holiday season safer and merrier.


By Holly McDonald

Holly Schwartz McDonald is a realtor at Villa Real Estate who has been featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters.” She can be reached at