Keeping Your Home and Celebrations Safe this Holiday Season

By: Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner

December 15, 2016

The holiday season is a time when many people decorate their homes and welcome friends and family for parties and to exchange gifts.

It’s a festive time of year, and there are some common sense actions you can take to make sure it stays that way.

Reduce Fire Hazards

Many people during this season have trees decorated with lights. It’s important to reduce fire hazards that trees and other live greens be adequately watered. A dry tree can catch fire and be fully engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes. You should use decorations that are flame resistant or retardant, and be sure to keep candles and cooking appliances out of the reach of children and pets. If you can, use electric candles rather than those with flames.

Make sure you turn off lights when you leave home or go to bed, and don’t overload circuits or power strips. Avoid connecting more than three strings of lights on a tree.

Be a Responsible Host

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, you could be held legally responsible for guests’ actions after they leave the party. Social host liability can have consequences if you serve liquor. To help avoid problems, hosts can stop serving liquor toward the end of the party, switch to coffee, tea, and soft drinks, and arrange for a ride or offer to have a guest who appears to have had too much to drink or seems too tired to drive the option of staying over for the night.

Make Sure Your Gifts Are Covered

Most homeowners’ policies cover the contents of a home at a certain percentage of the home’s value. This will vary by policy, but if your plans include any particularly expensive gifts, you may want to check with your insurance professional to make sure you have enough coverage. Also, most homeowners’ policies have specific, lower limits for valuables such as jewelry, fur, or firearms, so if you have these types of items, you may want to discuss whether you have sufficient coverage.

Don’t leave gifts visible through windows, and avoid posting vacation pictures on social media until you return, so as not to advertise your home will be unoccupied for a period of time.

The Wolf Administration hopes you all have a very safe and happy holiday season!

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