You let him land on your roof?!?

You let him land on your roof?!?

When the sleigh touches down on your roof and the jolly old soul alights on your property, is it the joy of the holidays that spring to mind or your liability and family safety? Seriously, there are eight animals parked on your roof and a man is trying to enter your house down a chimney from a point on a pitched roof that likely is covered in snow and ice. Worse yet, he has no fall protection! What should you be thinking when it comes to safety this holiday season?

If you are planning to entertain family and friends over the holiday, get those sidewalks and steps clear of snow and ice. If a thorough shoveling still leaves your property with icy areas, take a trip to your public works department or local hardware store and get a bucket or two of sand. Icy walks are not only a hazard but your responsibility. Sand the steps and the walks generously and if you have shaded areas that seem to spawn sheets of ice, lay on some rock salt as well.

Be careful where you put that nail to hang the wreaths. One homeowner took an extra minute to drive a nail into the wall beside the front door to hand the wreath before going to a holiday party across town. When they returned, they discovered the house had burned because he hit a wire in the wall and started a fire. Care needs to be taken, as well, when putting up the exterior lights. Be sure extension cords are grounded, there are no frayed wires and cords are out of the way where shovels and snow blowers might cut into them after a covering of the white stuff.

Let’s talk about those ladders you may use to decorate outside or in. The power lines that come into your home are just as deadly in the winter as in the summer. Extension ladders and power lines don’t mix. Even using step ladders for decorations require they be on a solid footing. Don’t feel like a whimp by asking someone to come hold the ladder for you. And if you’re getting on in years, recruit someone younger and more likely to bounce back up if they should fall.

A lot of homes already have their tree up and my, doesn’t that fragrant balsam smell like the holidays! The tree, however, likely was cut several weeks ago and began drying out immediately which creates one of the most frightening fire hazards you can imagine. Search for “Christmas tree fire” and see what happens when a spark sets it off. If you’re near a cut-your-own tree farm, a fresh tree will reduce the hazard. Water the tree a couple time a day for the first few days and then check it daily until you take it down. Give your tree lights the once over, as well, to ensure no bare wires or broken bulbs are being draped.

If you think that Santa made a sooty appearance when emerging in the fireplace, it’s probably because the chimney isn’t clean. If that’s the case, don’t burn Christmas trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace as they ignite rapid and put out more heat than a slow burning log – just the conditions that can ignite chimney soot.

Real candles are another troublesome safety hazard. If you use them, keep them clear of combustibles, in solid candle sticks and never left burning when unattended. Whether it’s a window candles or a menorah, it just isn’t worth taking the risk even if a fire seems improbable.

If you haven’t heard it enough, don’t buy toddlers and babies toys with tiny parts they can put in their mouths. Parents usually are maniacal about such things but sometimes grandparents or friends don’t think about the consequences of choking.

Don’t forget about your pets, either. Wrapping pet treats for under the tree is just asking for trouble. It can be even worse if you leave chocolate under the tree or within reach of a wet nose. So, put all the food up where it can’t be reached until the appointed hour – even Santa’s cookies and the reindeers’ carrots.

Finally, use your judgment when it comes to holiday cheer. Start with the understanding that a designated driver ought to be your default when partying with friends or at the office. There is no reason these days that you can’t find a willing soul to bring you home safe and sound or that you can drag up a chair or flop into a spare bed until it’s safe to drive.

This year, think about laying out a landing strip on the front lawn or in the driveway. Even the old elf will appreciate using a well sanded set of stairs while making his rounds. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a wicked Happy New Year!

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