The holiday season is upon us, and while this is an exciting time, it’s one of the most common times of the year for injuries and accidents to take place. Whether you are staying at home this holiday season or traveling to see family and friends, you’ll want to ensure you are protecting yourself and your home over the next few weeks. Keep reading as we share some of our top tips for staying healthy and safe this year.
Drive Safely During the Winter Months
The winter brings with it many challenges for drivers. During the holiday season, the number of insurance claims related to car accidents is much higher than any other time of year. There are many factors that come together to see an increase in accidents on the roads. The cold weather doesn’t help when it comes to safe driving, as you’ll find that roads are much more icy and slippery.
Distracted driving is very common this time of year. With holiday shopping, family issues, and the stress that can come along with that, distracted driving is an unfortunate side effect. Even without a smartphone in hand, drivers may just be “in their head” thinking, planning, or stressing about the holidays. That can contribute to the rise in accidents that occur this time of year.
Pay extra attention to other cars on the road, and of course, stay off your phone while driving. As of January 2021, it’s illegal to even hold your cell phone (or smart device) while driving, unless you are in an emergency or parked. (You can read more about how this law may affect you here.)
On top of that, people are more likely to drink and drive after holiday parties, which is something no one should ever do. Think twice before driving to a party if you think you might be drinking alcohol. These days ride share programs are abundant, and it’s more than worth the price to book an Uber, Lyft, or other taxi service to help you get around safely.
Beware of Christmas Tree Lights
While Christmas tree lights are so pretty to look at, they are one of the riskiest holiday decorations to use in your home. When you are using Christmas tree lights, make sure you are always present in the room where your tree is located. It doesn’t take much for an electrical issue to make your house go up in flames, especially if you are using a real Christmas tree this year.
Don’t ever leave Christmas tree lights or other electrical decorations on when you are out of the house. The last thing you want is to return home to a damaged house and spend months rebuilding your life just because you left your lights on.
Prevent Break-Ins While Traveling
Are you planning a trip abroad or to visit family around the country this holiday season? If so, you’ll want to think about how you’ll protect your home in Virginia while you are away. When you leave your house, double-check that everything is locked up properly before going away.
It’s a good idea to have a trusted neighbor, house sitter, or family member check up on your home periodically and bring in the mail. If you haven’t already invested in an alarm or video camera for your house or apartment, these are great tools to protect your home while you are away (and some can get you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance!). Home surveillance cameras allow you to view your home from anywhere in the world, so you can see what’s going on while you are traveling.
Other tools you can use to deter break-ins are programmable lights that turn on and off at random times (or lights that can be controlled remotely by your smart home system), as well as having a friend or neighbor leave their car at your house (bonus points if they move it periodically).
One last note: Think twice before posting about your holiday vacation on social media, especially if your profiles are public. Often break-ins and theft are done by people within your network simply because they knew you wouldn’t be there. With the exception of close family, friends, and your workplace, don’t tip anyone off that you will be leaving for any period of time. It’s a good idea to plan on posting your vacation photos after you’re back home.
Avoid Distractions While Cooking
If you’ve been tasked with cooking lunch or dinner for your family and friends this year, you need to make sure you can give this task your full attention. Cooking fires are a common issue over the holiday season, and busy kitchens only make this more common.
Try to avoid distractions and multi-tasking during this time, as you can easily lose track of how long food has been in the oven or on the stove. Enlist some help from a trusted family member if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. They can take care of an item that needs more attention while you focus on the rest of the cooking.
Never Leave Candles Unattended
The most common days of the year for home candle fires include Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. These are also a common trigger for Christmas tree fires, so you’ll want to be very careful about where you are placing candles in your home.
Try to keep candles away from your tree and anything else which is flammable. Also, keep them away from young children who may accidentally knock over a candle. Never leave a candle burning when you leave your house, even if you think you are just going out for a short while.
A great alternative to candles are flickering battery-operated candles. They can help create the ambiance you’re seeking without the risk.
Hide Your Gifts in the Lead Up to your Celebration
Although we think displaying your gifts prior to your celebration looks really pretty, be careful who can see the mountain of gifts you’ve purchased for your family. When thieves are looking for potential properties in Virginia to rob, they are much more likely to choose one where the gifts are out on display and ready to take. Think about only putting your gifts out the day or two before you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or other holidays. Only take them out just before you are ready to open them.
If you've acquired gifts while at a party, be sure not to leave them in your car when you get home. If you have no other choice than to leave them them in the car for a while, put them in the trunk or another area where they can't be seen from the outside.
Planning Holiday Parties
Holiday parties are a great way to catch up with your friends and family members you haven’t seen for a while. Especially with the challenges of the past year, you’ll no doubt be excited to reunite with those you haven’t seen for the last year or two. When planning a holiday party, try to limit the consumption of alcohol where possible. If you find a guest has enjoyed themselves a little too much, offer a ride home or call a taxi or ride share service.
Make sure your home is safe for visitors as well. Avoid slips and trips by ensuring that entryways and pathways are clear at all times. While you’ll want to have a fun time this holiday season, try to keep safety in mind to avoid any issues during your parties this year.
Stay safe and healthy this holiday season!
We can’t wait to celebrate the holidays this year, and after the challenges of the past year, there’s no better time to reunite with your family and friends. Make sure you keep everyone safe and healthy this holiday season by following the tips listed above. If you do find yourself in any tricky situations this Christmas, our team will be here to support you. We are passionate about supporting our clients in Richmond, Virginia, and the surrounding area and will be here to assist you in any way possible over the holiday season.