The holidays are supposed to be merry and bright, but there are lots of home hazards lurking in the lights and tinsel. Fires, poisoning, and dangers lurk for the unwary – and especially for children and pets. Keep this list handy, and mitigate home hazards as you find them.
Home Hazards for Kids:
- If you have very young children, it might be a good idea to steer clear of mistletoe and holly. Mistletoe’s white berries and holly’s white ones are toxic to human beings. Make sure these are placed out of reach where no parts can fall to the floor to be picked up and eaten.
- Tree preservatives made with bleach, vinegar, or alcohol can be harmful to children whether those preservatives are commercial or homemade. In fact, one popular recipe contains chlorine bleach and either vinegar or lemon juice – which can result in the creation of deadly chlorine gas. Additionally, the National Christmas Tree Association says that only plain water should be used on your tree.
- Those cheerful retro bubble lights contain methylene chloride. This substance is highly poisonous whether it is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
- Little kids love tinsel and sparkly things, childproof your tree by making sure that no ornaments can fit into a tube from a roll of toilet paper. If it’s small enough to fit, wait until the kids are older to use it.
Home Hazards for Pets:
- Did you know that chocolate is poisonous to both dogs and cats? Our four-footed friends can’t metabolize caffeine or theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the dose of two chemicals. Even milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate can deliver a fatal dose.
- Grapes and raisins are also poisonous to cats and dogs and can cause sudden kidney failure, while garlic and onions can damage red blood cells.
- Just as with toddlers, tinsel temps both dogs and cats but can cause terrible damage to their intestines and even death. Considering the agility of cats and the persistence of dogs, it’s probably a good idea to leave this stuff off the tree.
- Xylitol is present in a lot of diabetic candies, and in ketogenic suites as well. If ingested in large amounts it can cause seizures and even liver failure.
Home Hazards: Stopping Fires
- Now is a good time to conduct maintenance on your smoke detectors. Test each one, replace the battery, and dust or vacuum out the inside.
- Make sure that fire extinguishers are up-to-date and in easy to access areas, especially in the kitchen or around the tree.
- The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. Here in Florida, that’s not much of a concern, but buildup from previous fires can result in a chimney fire.
- No open flames. The open flames or candles can catch on curtains, clothing, and hair. Confine flames by using hurricane lamps or candle lanterns. You may also want to investigate flameless candles that are powered by LEDs.
- Don’t overload the outlets. This is one of the biggest known as there is. Overloaded outlets can cause breakers to trip, or in the case of older wiring can even cause an electrical fire.
Home Hazards: Alcohol
We don’t often think of alcohol as a home hazard. Unfortunately, alcohol is a factor in any number of accidents in and around the home, and on the road. Minimize the chance for alcohol to become problematic by keeping it out of reach of minors and limit the amount of drinking per legal adult to one or two drinks per day. It should go without saying that nobody who has been consuming alcohol should be driving, operating a boat, or even swimming. Alcohol interferes with judgment and perception and is one of the biggest causes of accidents in the home.
Here at E&L insurance, we’re not putting out this list to bring anybody down. We care very much that everybody has a happy and safe holiday season. As independent insurance agents, we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously. We don’t want to process claims for holiday fires or other accidents. There are lots of other home hazards that can be mitigated to make sure that everyone has a wonderful holiday – and one spent outside of an emergency room. If you’d like to know some other ways to avoid filing a claim and maybe even save some money on your premiums, get in touch with your independent insurance agent today!