Preparing Your Household, and Insurance Policies, For the Holidays
While many households will enjoy an accident-free holiday, many don’t take the extra time to go over any potential safety hazards both inside and outside of the home.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies offer coverage for personal liability in the event of an injury on the policyholder’s property. One crucial way to prepare the property for guests is to sweep or shovel any driveways or walkways and treat them with rock salt if cold temperatures are expected. Double-check the gutters as well, since they are often overlooked. No one wants a chunk of ice to fall and cause an injury.
Maintaining the inside of the home is another important part of holiday preparation. Clean the house in the few days leading up to when guests arrive along with clearing all areas of clutter to make hallways and rooms safer. Guests, especially the elderly, need to be able to navigate hallways and rooms since they are the most prone to becoming disoriented and falling. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can also cause disorientation regardless of age, so whether you have a CO detector or not, have the furnace and venting system checked by a certified expert to look for any possible hazards.
While shopping for food and other holiday goodies, stock up on batteries and flashlights in preparation for any potential weather or emergency situations.
One of the easiest things homeowner’s can forget is to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home structure fires that began with Christmas trees in 2007-2011 caused approximately $18.3 million in direct property damage (NFPA: Home Christmas Tree Fires Fact Sheet, November 2013). The alarm can signal awareness to exit the house immediately before the smell or sight of smoke is noticeable. If the homeowner’s insurance policy was properly arranged, all repairs due to fire damage should be fully covered by the insurance company. On another note, be aware of what’s on the stove or in the oven since unattended cooking is a major cause of avoidable house fires.
“In particular, I would recommend having an emergency plan in place for any eventuality,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer. “Go over this with your guests so everyone is aware of exit routes and emergency numbers. You really don’t know what is going to happen, so be prepared for anything.”
To learn more about fire safety, look into your local fire department since they often host Fire Awareness activities and information sessions.
Child safety should be monitored year-round, but if children are coming to a holiday get-together, have any small objects and breakables out of reach. There are many trustworthy resources online that give tips to avoid potentially dangerous situations, including government websites like MedlinePlus. Holiday injuries can include anything from glass ornaments to choking on small toys so childproofing your home should be a top priority (MedlinePlus: Child Safety, December 10, 2013).
“The best way to protect yourself and any potential visitors is to maintain your property. Accidents do happen so review your homeowner’s policy and update any necessary areas. Does your policy cover your personal liability if someone is injured while visiting? If you haven’t done so already, insure your personal liability and make sure your coverage includes payment of guests’ medical bills if they are injured while visiting your home,” says Darras.