photo: Marcus Chung/iStock

10 Ways to Safely Celebrate the Holiday Season

By Kellie Davenport

A global pandemic isn’t the only reason to take extra care while celebrating the holiday season. Even if you don’t plan on hosting any large gatherings this year, follow these tips to help keep your home merry, safe and bright.

1 If you opt for a real tree, keep it at least one metre from fireplaces, radiators and heat sources. As pine needles dry out, they become more flammable.

2 Don’t let your dog drink water from your tree stand. Preservatives applied to fresh trees make them last longer, but the chemicals could make your fur babies sick.

3 Only use outdoor lights outside. Interior lights can’t stand up to moisture and may cause electrical shorts.

4 Keep potentially poisonous plants (mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis) away from children and pets.

5 Always keep an eye on candles. In Alberta, research shows that candle fires double between December 15 and 31.

6 If you do decide to attend any holiday gatherings, appoint a designated driver before you arrive. If you’re hosting, pre-book taxis or arrange ride shares for guests.

7 Don’t forget pandemic rules at parties. Maintain a safe distance from guests, wash hands often and don’t share utensils. And a festive mask is a fun way to spread cheer rather than germs.

8 Stagger how much cardboard you leave by the curb. Packaging from big-ticket gifts like TVs, laptops and gaming consoles alert potential thieves to all the new toys you have inside.

9 Driving to see the in-laws? Before starting the car, make sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit, some extra snacks and water, and the AMA Mobile App—in case you get stuck on the way.

10 If you’ll be away for more than a couple of days, have a friend check in on your home. Many insurance policies require that someone regularly monitor for frozen pipes and other potential concerns.