One of the many joys of the holiday season is decorating your home. Religious celebrations aside, December is about spending time with loved ones and toasting the successes and achievements of the past year. Making your space warm and inviting for family, friends, and colleagues is an integral part of this process - and beyond that, it's really fun.
We know that it's easy to get wrapped up in wreaths, lighting, and ornaments, so we want to take this moment to encourage homeowners to practice safe decorating this season. (And no, we're not just talking about making sure you've got mints by your mistletoe). So what exactly do we mean? We've found that atmosphere can trump electrical and fire safety, and that between visiting and being visited by others, basic maintenance can get overlooked. Outlined below are our top five December Décor Do's & Don'ts.
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 your hot cocoa break gets interrupted by a frantic call from your mother-in-law, remember to extinguish your candles before you answer the phone. This is a pretty serious fire hazard that doesn't take much to avoid, so make sure to blow out your candles before leaving a room.
2. Don't keep your holiday lights near paper and plush materials
Whether they are 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. 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
If they aren't already, neighborhoods will soon be 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 and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
With all the seasonal cooking and baking your kitchen will see this month it's important to make sure you're prepared for an emergency. You wear oven mitts to protect your hands, do the same for your house by properly maintaining your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should test your detectors on a monthly basis to see whether they have working batteries. You must have at least one smoke detector on each floor, but we recommend more. While there aren't standard rules for carbon monoxide detectors, and you might not even have one, we treat them similarly to smoke detectors and do encourage homeowners to have at least one in their homes.
5. Do shovel your driveway and salt your walkway
It's no wonder "Let It Snow" will be playing in stores, at school concerts, and in living rooms all season long - snow is one of the quintessential pieces of the holiday puzzle. Unfortunately, it can be more than festive, it presents a hazard too. 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.
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.