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Tips to Keep Your Home Safe for the Holidays

After calculating how big of a turkey you need to feed all your guests or the best way to avoid holiday traffic on the roads as you travel to celebrate elsewhere, will you remember to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure an emergency-free celebration? Use this handy checklist to keep fires in fireplaces, fire engines away, burglars at bay, and family members out of the emergency room.

Celebrating at home

• Install and put new batteries in smoke alarms. Functioning smoke alarms should be located in or near the kitchen (and any other cooking areas), on each level of the home, and in sleeping areas.

• Remove fire hazards. This includes removing anything flammable, including wooden utensils, oven mitts, plastic bags, and towels from around open flames or cooking surfaces.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. And don’t forget to learn how to use it. More than one person should be familiar with where the extinguisher is kept and how to use it. You can purchase a fire extinguisher for your home at most superstores.

• Take extra care with turkey fryers. Turkey fryers pose additional fire and burn hazards because of the required hot oil. To prevent a mishap, be sure the oil is the right temperature and always fry your turkey outside in a well-ventilated area.

• Circulate fresh air. If you are using a natural gas or propane stove, be careful of a carbon monoxide build up in the home. Run vents in the kitchen, particularly the ones directly over the stove, and open any windows or doors in the kitchen at least once an hour to circulate fresh air.

• Watch lit candles. Scented candles can add to a cozy atmosphere, but with lots of people moving around an enclosed space—including pets and small children—there’s an increased chance they could lead to a fire hazard. Do not leave lit candles unattended and, when possible, place them out of reach of young hands.

• Never use a glass casserole container on a stove burner. Placing a glass container—purposely or accidentally—on a hot stove burner could cause it to explode. Check all dishes for proper heating and washing instructions.

• Be aware of electronic appliances in use and their dangling cords. These pose both fire and tripping hazards!

Traveling to celebrate

• Consider a home security system. If you’ve ever considered buying a home security system, now’s the perfect time to invest in one. There are systems for all budgets, many with cameras that stream to an app on your smartphone so you can keep an eye on things while you’re gone, not to mention 24-monitoring services for everything from smoke, to carbon monoxide, to tripped light sensors.

• Keep travel details off social media. As tempting as it is to boast about travel plans, doing so online could alert burglars. Even with privacy settings turned on, you never know what information could be viewed or passed on from an acquaintance.

• Put timers on lights. Set both inside and outside lights on timers to mimic you being home.

• Turn the ringer down on any landline phones. If you still have a landline phone installed in your home, turn the ringer volume down so those walking by your house don’t hear repeated rings go unanswered.

• Stop mail and newspaper delivery. Even if you’ll only be gone for a few days, it’s smart to stop all mail deliveries or have a trusted neighbor collect your mail. Piles of papers and full mailboxes are telltale signs you’re away from home.

• Lock doors and windows. Before leaving home, double check all entry points are locked and secure, including sliding glass doors, second-story windows, and any pet entrances.

• Don’t leave a hidden key outside. If a burglar suspects you’re out of town, they’ll take their time looking in all the usual (and unusual) places for an extra key. Don’t leave one out for them to find!

• Unplug unnecessary electronics. This will save you money and save you from a potential fire if a power surge occurs while you’re gone.

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