(Excerpt from the Newsletter by Carson Dunlop. For full version, please click on the picture)
Keeping Your Home Safe & Festive This Holiday Season
The Holiday season allows us to spend time with loved ones and toast the successes of the past year. Making your space warm and inviting for family and friends is all part of getting into the spirit of the season. While it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping trips, visiting family and decorating your space it's important to remember the following tips to keep your home safe this holiday season.
1. Don't leave your candles unattended
It may seem like common sense, but with what feels like a million things on your "To Do" list, it doesn't take a lot to get distracted. So when you head to the kitchen to start that holiday baking, remember to extinguish the candles you lit in another room. This is a pretty serious fire hazard that doesn't take much to avoid, so make sure to blow out your candles before leaving the room.
2. Don't keep your holiday lights near paper and plush materials
Whether they be on your tree, around your windows, or on your banisters, it's important to keep your indoor lights clear from debris that can catch fire. When left on for several hours the tiny bulbs on your holiday lights can create a lot more heat than you'd expect, so keeping them away from flammable objects is important. As well turning off your lights before you go to bed saves energy and ensures you are extra safe while sleeping. Although modern holiday lights are definitely safer than their predecessors, taking this extra precaution is still a good idea.
3. Do put your outside lights on timers
Neighborhoods are aglow with lights framing homes and twinkling in trees, real and inflatable snowmen, and other festive creatures wishing passers-by happy holidays. Turning your front yard into a winter wonderland can be a blast, but the majority of modern decorations require electricity to function, and keeping the juice flowing all night is less than ideal. Save money and the environment by using a timer for your outdoor electronics. Plug your decorations into the timer, and set it to turn on and off at specific times. We usually set ours to turn on just after sunset, and off around 10 or 11pm. Timers can help to deter burglars by making them think you're home when you aren't, and they save you the trouble of fumbling with plugs late at night in your pajamas. They typically cost around $30 and are available at most hardware stores.
4. Do check your locks before leaving the house
The holiday season is a time when presents are tucked under the tree with delight (and hidden in closets and under beds.) The opportunity to capitalize on all those waiting gifts can mean that burglars are more likely to break into homes. You'd be surprised by the number of people who forget to lock the back door, after they let the dog in, especially this time of year. So right before you leave the house, ensure that your home is locked up tight. Check your windows and doors to make sure everything is safe and secure and turn on the alarm system if you have one. (As an added tip, make sure you are mindful when putting your garbage out after the presents have been opened. Some waste can be a tip off that you have expensive new gifts in the home. Cut any big electronic boxes up so it's not so obvious that you bought that 70'' Smart TV or laptop. This keeps any watchful eyes guessing and less interested in what's inside your home.)
5. Do shovel your driveway and salt your walkway
While we have been pretty lucky so far in Toronto as far as mild weather for December, there are plenty of other areas around the city that have seen snow and ice already. Winter weather is wonderful, but it's also dangerous. Avoid getting stuck in your driveway, or slipping down your walkway, by shoveling and salting regularly. These chores are a bit of a pain in the neck, but they are far superior to you or others falling due to prolonged snow and ice accumulation.
Home maintenance and safety is valuable year-round, but as this is one of the traditionally busiest times for many, we felt it pertinent to reinforce these concerns.
For more homeowner advice and maintenance tips, make sure to check out the Carson Dunlop blog.
There are a lot of do's and don'ts this season, but perhaps this biggest is don't drink and drive. Please stay safe and responsible.