Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

13 Must Do Holiday Safety Tips

It’s nearly time to deck the halls of your Buffalo-area home with all that glimmers, shimmers, twinkles and blinks. But before you go crazy setting up all the holiday décor in and around your Western New York home, you may want to review a few holiday safety tips that can help keep you and your family secure.


Holiday Lighting


From overloaded sockets to unattended candles, holiday lighting components have multiple ways they can go wrong. Lighting tips for holiday safety in your Buffalo area home include:


  • Check all lights: Inspect lights for cracked or loose bulbs, damaged sockets or connections, frayed wires and other potential dangers. Replace any lights that require it. Make sure any lights used outdoors are certified for outdoor use.
  • Update the old: Older, incandescent bulbs require more energy and burn hotter than the newer LEDs. Consider making the switch.
  • Use circuit interrupters: Plug all your outdoor lights and electric decoration into circuits equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters to guard against shocks.
  • Avoid overload: Never string more than three strands of lights together or as the manufacturer directs if different. Also, refrain from overloading extension cords or outlets.
  • Mount lights safely: Secure lights in place by stringing them through insulated staples or hooks. Never use nails, tacks or other mounting hardware that can damage the cord’s insulation.
  • Unplug lights when not supervised: Unplug lights and other electric decorations before leaving the house or retiring for the night.


Holiday Candles


Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are the top three days for home candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Holiday safety candle tips include:


  • Use wisely: Use sturdy candleholders, placing them away from curtains, decorations and other combustible materials. Keep an eye on them around children and pets.
  • Extinguish fully: Make sure candles are out before bed or leaving the house.
  • Consider options: Think about switching to battery-operated candles that don’t pose the same high level of hazards as those with open flames.


Holiday Tree and Other Decorations


Lush, live Christmas trees are one of the Western New York’s holiday perks. But they can also be one of the greatest hazards, especially when combined with lighting components. NFPA reports 38 percent of holiday tree fires are due to lighting or electrical equipment. Decoration tips for holiday safety include:


  • Keep trees well-watered: Dried-out trees and their fallen needles are perfect fodder for a holiday fire. When choosing a tree for your Buffalo area home, make sure it’s stocked with fresh, green needles that stay in place when touched. Also cut a few inches off the trunk bottom to expose fresh wood, which more readily absorbs water.
  • Pick a safe location: Position trees at least three feet from heating vents, interior lights, fireplaces and candles.
  • Choose materials carefully: If you decide to go for an artificial tree, and when choosing tree trimmings and other holiday decorations, look for those made of flame-resistant, non-combustible materials.
  • Choose lighting options carefully: Never use strands of lights on metallic trees. Faulty lights can cause metallic trees to become charged with electricity, posing an electrocution hazard to anyone who touches it.


Common sense goes a long way when it comes to holiday safety, as does ensuring the usual safeguards, like functional smoke detectors, are in place. You can always schedule a home inspection for additional peace of mind during the holidays, or anytime, to ensure your home is in tip-top shape.