While people focus on spending time with family and friends, shopping for gifts, and traveling during the holiday season, it’s also important for them to pay attention to keeping their homes safe.
Without putting a damper on the holiday spirit, here are some simple precautions from Brian Collins, a writer for Hippo, an InsurTech company, that you can share with your clients.
If you’re home for the holidays:
- Track all your online orders and make sure you’re aware of delivery times and days. Do your best to be home to receive packages when they are scheduled to arrive.
- Even when you’re home, it’s wise to keep all doors locked.
- Keep in mind that gifts under the tree can attract thieves. If you do put gifts out, keep them away from windows.
- Burn or cut up packaging for expensive gifts before discarding it. Some thieves will dig through trash for clues about what valuables may be inside your home.
- When shopping online, shop at websites you trust, create strong passwords for your accounts, pay with credit cards for more liability protection, and be very wary of email scams (don’t open attachments from people or businesses you don’t know).
If you’re away for the holidays:
- Web-based security cameras are the best method to remotely monitor your home. You can see who is coming and going, when packages are delivered, and othre activity that occurs when you’re away.
- Leave a key with a neighbor or make copies for family and friends instead of hiding it outside your home., where a would-be home invader might find it.
- Don’t make announcements on social media that you will be leaving for the holidays.
- Wait until you return home to make holiday-related posts online, and don’t post your location while you’re away.
- Put your lights on a timer and have them turn on during hours when you would ordinarily be home, so your home doesn’t appear unoccupied.
- Make sure mail and packages are held for you until your return.
- Record the make, model and serial number of your valuables (artwork, electronics, firearms, etc.) and photograph or make a video log of your jewelry and other important belongings. Stolen property is much easier to recover if you have solid identifying information.
- Tell a neighbor or friend when you’re going to be out of town, and have them drop by to check on your home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking appliances are the leading cause of house fires in the United States, with Christmas Day and Christmas Eve among the times when these kinds of fires most frequently occur. Decorations, such as candles, are also to blame for many fires in homes.
Here are some tips to help clients to stay safe:
- Keep a close eye on your oven and stove when cooking.
- If possible, opt for a freshly cut Christmas tree, since natural trees are more fire-resistant than artificial ones. Also, be sure to keep your tree watered and away from open flames, radiators, or space heaters. If you’re shopping for an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as “fire-resistant.” Never use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
- Avoid putting wrapping paper, which can ignite suddenly and burn intensely, in your fireplace.
- Ensure your flue is open before igniting a fire, and remove any decorations from around the fireplace.
- Test your smoke alarms and keep exits from your home clear.
- Don’t overload your circuit breaker or extension cords.
- When you leave the house or go to bed, turn off all your holiday lights to avoid a potential fire.