Holiday Home Safety

By:  Mary Hunter

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season upon us, cold thoughts about crime or home safety are likely last on our mind. While no one really wants to think about a holiday mishap, or that a vandal lurks around the corner, the possibility of both is certainly out there.  By taking a moment to recall a few simple suggestions, we can lessen or even eliminate the occasion of an accident or for a crime.  We already know most of these “good ole” common sense measures.  Here’s a quick list of things that I keep in mind and try to do.  Perhaps you can add to the list with some prevention ideas that I have missed!


It is estimated that burglars will spend approximately sixty seconds trying to break into a house.  If our home is secured with good dead bolt locks, it may deter a forced entry since dead bolts take time to get through.  The burglar typically tries to choose a home that appears to have the least amount of resistance to enter.

After the presents have been opened, we can break down the boxes and take them to a neighborhood recycle station.  This takes time (and fuel), but it might be better than piling up boxes on the curb to advertise the gifts that have been opened.

When we leave to visit family or friends over the holiday, asking a few trusted neighbors to keep an eye on things can help.  It is also important for us to remember to stop newspaper and mail delivery, or, again, to ask neighbors to collect them for us.


When leaving for that fun party or shopping, it is sometimes hard to remember to check or use the dead bolt locks. Sometimes in-house alarms become a pain in the neck to arm (especially if we are less than adept at these systems).  In addition to alarms, however, simple things like leaving some lights on or activating light timers will give the appearance that someone is home.

Even leaving a radio or TV turned on (especially if there is no dog on the premises) can make our home look and sound like someone is there.

In our neighborhood, we have had friends return after being out,  and it looked like something happened in their home.  Instead of entering the home they have called the police and waited until they were given the “all clear” sign.  It seems safe and smart for us not to enter our homes but rather to quickly call the police from a cell phone or from a neighbor’s home.


We all know that our Christmas tree needs water to stay fresh, and that they only last so long once taken out of the ground and put in a stand.  One way to make sure they do not become fire hazards is to put a fresh cut in the trunk of the tree when it stops needing as much water.  It is easy to leave off checking the water level daily once the tree stops drinking as much.  Add to that the possibility that our tree lights might have some unnoticed loose wires or connections, our dessicating tree can become a fire hazard.  Lights are always tricky (besides taking a long time to put up).  Apparently tree fires have started by stringing more than three strands of miniature lights together. Such little things whose safety we assume in tact or take for granted can become potential electrical fire hazards.

I have to admit, we have not (well, my husband has not) always been careful with burning candles.  (He nearly burned his office up one year.)  I am fanatical about making sure they are not left unattended when leaving not just the home, but any room in which they are located.  It is hard enough to place the candles in a location free of materials that may catch on fire.

We have always burned Christmas wrapping paper in our outdoor fireplace.  I just learned, however, that gift wrap may emit dangerous sparks.  It also produces a chemical buildup that has the potential of causing an explosion in the fireplace.  No more weenie roasts courtesy of Holiday wrapping paper for my husband!

Speaking of weenies, we have a dachshund (called, in fact, “Wienie” after Oswald the Octopus’ dog).  She can be a turbo charged vacuum.  We try to be careful about leaving food or drink around or letting it stay on, if dropped onto, the floor for but a second since we know that chocolate, onions, raisins, and alcohol can be fatal to a dog.  Wienie has never been tempted by items under a tree, but apparently some dogs have suffered or died from food or drink wrapped and left under the Christmas tree.

One of our family’s friends originated perhaps the most famous and beautiful Christmas flower, Poinsettias.  While they are lovely and really contribute a mood of happiness to our homes, they are quite toxic if ingested.  Watching out for and warning our little children or animals (they like to chew almost anything at least once!) about the plants becomes an imperative.

Hard to see how this list makes for Holiday Cheer.  Thankfully, however, we have all grown up with a sense of precaution and protection.  So learning another strategy here and there does not overwhelm us, and we can genuinely enjoy the Season.  So please share with us any of your tips or experiences!

Here’s wishing everyone a warm, safe, and joyous time with family and friends.


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