Holiday hazards: 3 tips for decking your halls safely

Welcome to Day 4 of the
25 Days of Ottawa Life
Christmas Calendar

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to keep checking under the
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Twinkling lights and a tree with all the trimmings get everyone in the holiday spirit. But sometimes these decorations can bring just as much danger as joy. Fires involving Christmas trees and holiday lights can result in a large amount of direct property damage each year.

To keep everything merry and bright this season, here are easy-to-follow holiday safety tips to help you spread cheer the smart way.

1. Location, location, location. While the appearance of your holiday tree matters, where you place it is far more important. Choose an appropriate location that is far away from heat sources such as heating vents, fireplaces or space heaters.

2. Timing is everything. Although we like to cling to all the good things the holidays bring, your tree shouldn't be one. If you are using a real one to celebrate the season, only keep it for three weeks to avoid having it dry out. When the time comes to give your tree the heave-ho, check with your local waste services department for disposal locations. Many cities offer recycling as an option, and if you're lucky, some will even pick yours up curbside.

3. Let there be light. Lights on a tree fill any room with cheer. However, electrical fires are common. To ensure your lighting up your home the safe way:

• Use ultra-violet lights approved by a testing laboratory.

• Make sure the lightbulb wattage matches the cord's requirements.

• Inspect all lights before hanging.

• Replace any lights that have frayed cords, exposed wires and damaged sockets.

• Never use a light strand with an empty socket.

• Limit the connected light strands to three.

• Check wires regularly for hot spots. If you feel a hot spot, unplug the cord immediately.

• Ensure all electrical cords and outlets are unobstructed by curtains and other decorations.

• Never leave the lights on unattended. Unplug them before you leave the house and when you go to bed.

For added peace of mind, make sure you have a home insurance policy that has your back. You can easily manage your policy online with Esurance, freeing more time to enjoy the season.