Pennsylvania Officials Offer Tips on Home Holiday Safety

December 22, 2015

The holiday season is a festive time, which often means homes are decorated and family and friends visit. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is offering some tips on how to keep this season happy by avoiding potentially dangerous and costly situations.

“Holiday lights and candles give a home a holiday glow, but they can also pose a fire hazard,” said Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay. “One way to avoid this hazard is to purchase artificial candles, which can look very realistic, while giving you peace of mind this holiday season.”

Solobay offered several other suggestions for keeping holiday lights, decorations, and candles safe. These include choosing decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant and keeping all holiday greenery, including trees, well-watered. In addition, never leave burning candles or cooking appliances unattended, and keep children and pets away from open flames and hot surfaces, Solobay advised.

Other decoration safety suggestions include replacing any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections and avoiding connecting more than three strands of lights on a tree. Be sure to turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Holiday Parties

Holiday party hosts should also be aware of the legal responsibilities that go with holding a gathering in their home. This is especially true if alcohol is being served.

“Hosts can be held legally responsible for guests’ actions after they leave a party,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller. “Social host liability can have consequences for someone who serves liquor to a guest.”

Miller reminded consumers that homeowners insurance often provides some liquor liability coverage, but this coverage varies by policy. She recommended that homeowners planning to host a party review their policy or discuss their coverage with their insurance professional.

Miller also recommended several ways to make sure guests get home safely from holiday parties, such as:

  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the party;
  • Switch to coffee, tea, or soft drinks;
  • Arrange for a ride or offer for that guest to stay at your home if anyone appears to have had too much to drink or seems too tired to drive home.

Miller also advised consumers that if they are giving or receiving expensive gifts, such as jewelry, electronics, or other costly items, they should review their homeowners insurance to make sure they have enough coverage for these expensive items. The commissioner recommended that unwrapped gifts, especially more expensive ones, not be left visible through windows.

“The holidays are a time to relax and enjoy getting together with family and friends,” said Solobay. “By applying a few common sense safety ideas, you can make sure your holiday gatherings remain happy ones you will want to remember for years to come.”

Source: The Pennsylvania Insurance Department

Topics Pennsylvania

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