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Tips for Staying Safe During the Holidays

As festive activities and winter weather ramp up, a few easy steps can safeguard everyone.

Pam Mandel, Josh Sens
person hanging holiday decorations outside, photo
Photo credit
Photo: Jen Grantham / Stocksy
Photo caption
Take care when hanging holiday lights and other decorations outdoors.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but with the festivities comes hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that decoration-related accidents sent nearly 15,000 people in the United States to emergency rooms last year. Prevention is key, and insurance can help with unexpected costs.

Tie Down That Tree You don’t want your prized fir denting the hood of the car behind you. Limited daylight hours, heavy traffic—even in parking lots—and bad weather create additional driving challenges. Animals don’t have turn signals or headlights, and colliding with one can cause significant damage to your vehicle. Comprehensive insurance often covers repair costs.

Consider Your Candles Hanukkah latkes and Kwanzaa lights are festive, but deep fryers and candles also present fire hazards. (One out of three holiday fires is started by candles, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.) Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged, and never throw water on a grease fire. Your renters or homeowners policy may cover repairs due to fire damage.

Watch for boys and ghouls According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities of any day of the year. So drive slowly, especially in residential neighborhoods. To make kids more visible to drivers, have them go trick-or-treating in groups and add reflective stickers to their costumes. 

Mind the ice and snow Did you know that braking distances can more than double on slippery roads? Leave extra room between your car and the vehicle ahead, and allow plenty of time to stop at intersections and crosswalks. Reduce your speed during stormy weather.

Take care in the kitchen Cooking is a big part of holiday celebrations. It’s also the leading cause of house fires. Never leave the turkey—or anything else—unattended in the oven or on the stovetop. Keep towels, napkins, and other flammable materials away from heat. And now is a good time to test your smoke alarms and replace batteries, if needed.

Stay alert at the wheel Drowsy driving is always dangerous. Avoid driving alone late at night, especially after a big meal. If you’re on a long trip, share the driving duties with a companion.

Play it Safe No matter the menu, allergic reactions (were there nuts in that casserole?), chipped teeth (that candy cane was really hard), and other unfortunate events can result in medical or legal expenses. Icy walkways and stairs also present risks. Check your policy for personal injury coverage.

Decorate with Caution Before stringing holiday lights, check each strand for any frayed wires or insulation gaps. If you’re using a ladder outdoors, be sure to place it on even ground, have someone else help you with the project, and don’t reach too far to hang decorations. Move the ladder as necessary. To prevent fires, turn off the lights before you go out and when you go to bed. 

Protect loved ones this season with the gift of AAA membership.

This article was first published in November 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.