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It's the most wonderful time of the year...and may be hazardous for homes, too!

Though it is one of the most wonderful times of the year, it can also be the most hazardous in your home. During the Thanksgiving to New Year season, police departments report a spike in burglaries. And on top of that, fire departments receive hundreds of calls about fires caused by Christmas and holiday lights.

Here are a few suggestions to protect your home and family from these holiday hazards:


Burglars are on the prowl and looking for clues as to what goodies you have for them to take!
Don't share what type of computer or flat-screen TV is now in your home. When throwing away packaging, break down boxes and place them in a dark colored trash bag or closed container - not an open bin.

Don't invite would-be burglars to window shop. Keep valuable items like computers and gifts out of sight and away from windows or doors. If you're going out of town, keep the shades drawn.

Check for identification before opening the door to a stranger, including delivery people; criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.

If you're going to be away from home for a few days, don't let it look like it! Put a couple indoor lights on timers and have a friend or neighbor collect your mail, newspapers and deliveries.


Do not use holiday lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Only use holiday lights that are certified by an independent testing laboratory and suited for the use you need - whether indoor or outdoor.

Keep your cut, real trees well watered. They are less likely to catch fire. When a tree begins dropping needles, it's time to take it to a drop-off site or the curb. Trees that are not watered and dried out can be extremely flammable and result in a fatality more frequently than other home fires.

Even artificial trees can be flammable, so make sure yours is noted by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. Styles with built-in electrical systems also should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.

Safety should trump holiday decorations when it comes to candles. The top day for residential candle fires is Christmas Day, followed by Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, according to the National Safety Council.

If you plan to enjoy a toasty fire, ensure your chimney flue is inspected and cleaned to remove flammable buildup. Keep any flammable items, like wrapped holiday presents and decorations, at least three feet away from the fireplace.

Stay safe and happy holidays!