By Lisa Lam

As the holiday season (i.e., the best time of year) approaches, many of us decorate our homes, entertain family and friends, and overall ignite our holiday spirit. While we celebrate, it is essential that we remember to be safe and mindful of our surroundings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, house fires tend to peak around the holidays. Here are some common safety tips to avoid any disasters this holiday season.

Let’s Cook Wisely

 Cooking is one of the main causes of house fires during the holiday season. Whether on the stove-top or in the oven, do not leave your food unattended while it is being cooked. From needing to run an errand or listening to a relative’s endless stories, it is all too easy to become distracted as we are cooking.

Consider cleaning as you cook to avoid overwhelming yourself. A big mess could be hiding an easily avoidable fire hazard. Careless use of oil could also result in a spark.

Have a buddy! For all you over-achievers, don’t overload yourself. Make sure there is always at least one competent adult watching the heat. Otherwise, turn it off.

Avoid Decorating Dangerously

 You would be surprised how prone most holiday decorations are to overheating and catching fire. Be mindful of your table runners, garlands, or stocking placements. Keep them a safe distance away from heat sources like radiators, space heaters, heat vents, fireplaces, and any kind of open flames. Decorations may also cause other safety hazards and can be a general nuisance. It is important to be aware of where you are running your wires and to avoid overloading your electrical outlets.

During this time of year, Homeowners’ Associations should consider implementing temporary rules and regulations to ensure safe festivities.

General Safety Precautions

Ensure your smoke alarms are working. Most of us probably have a beeping smoke alarm somewhere begging for a battery change. It is extremely tempting to simply take the battery out and not deal with it, but don’t give in – replace the battery and test the alarm.

Keep the exits clear. While you are making room for friends and family, make sure there are at least two accessible exits in case of emergency.

Ask smokers to smoke outside and to properly put out the flame. House fires do not always start from the inside of the house. Fallen leaves and twigs are highly flammable.

Review Your Insurance

 No one ever expects a disaster to happen to them. It is better to be well-prepared than not.  Homeowners’ Associations must carry a master policy, which generally covers at least the building structure. Turn the building upside down and anything that doesn’t fall out is usually covered by the master policy. For all the personal items that do fall out, each unit owner is responsible for maintaining their own homeowners’ policy which should also cover the deductible amount of the master policy. This works to minimize any out-of-pocket expenses.

Reviewing your insurance is the most proactive and best way to protect yourself in the event of a disaster or loss. Accidents happen, even to the most careful people. Make sure your policy is sufficient to take care of you. Feel free to contact an Attorney at Allcock & Marcus, LLC for a review of your condominium insurance protocols. Happy Holidays!


Written by

Lisa Lam

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