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Stay safe this holiday season: take our online quiz

Image of man on a ladder installing lights on a house roof
Ladders come into play during the holiday season, both indoors and out. With slippery surfaces outdoors, it's a good idea to have someone holding the ladder at the base while you do your work at the edge of a roof.

Be aware of indoor and outdoor hazards this winter

The seasons have shifted. Days are getting shorter, weather is getting colder and the holidays are right around the corner. Winter is the perfect time to reconnect with family and friends, deck the halls and get into the spirit of the holidays. It's easy to rush through your to-do list and forget to keep safety top of mind.

Don't worry – we've got you covered.

Start by touring our holiday hazards house

Think you're already savvy when it comes to safety? Test your knowledge with our holiday hazard safety quiz and see how easily you can spot the safety issues. It might not be as easy as you think.

Now, see all our tips below. When you're done, you may want to take the quiz again.

Deck the halls

The first step to really get in the spirt of the season is likely to decorate your home with lights and a tree.

  • Whether you prefer a real or artificial tree, keep it at least three feet away from any heat sources like a space heater or fireplace. If you prefer the smell of real pine or fir in your home, make sure to water it often. Ask for a fresh cut when you purchase your tree to ensure it draws lots of water, and check the needles often to ensure they're not drying out too quickly.
  • The best lighting options for your decorations are LED holiday lights – they use less electricity, and last a really long time – plus they're made of plastic so they won't shatter, and they don't produce heat when they're turned on. That makes them an especially safe choice if your home includes small children or pets.
  • If you're hanging lots of lights this holiday season, take care not to overload outlets. Use a power bar if you want to plug multiple items into one socket, and if you need to use an extension cord, use one that's only as long as you need.

Holiday hosting safety reminders

Opening up your home for festive gatherings with family and friends likely means your oven and stove will be working in overdrive.

Before you get started on holiday baking, take some time to clean your oven. Not only will it help reduce the risk of a grease fire, but your oven will also distribute heat more efficiently. Next, clear the stove and cooking area of anything that could be flammable, like oven mitts, dish towels, and recipes.

Nothing will put a damper on your holiday open house like your guests taking a spill down your slippery front stairs. If you get a lot of snow fall and ice in your area, keep your driveway and doorstep shoveled and salted.

With all the added decorations for the holiday, do a check of all the cords, and make sure they're placed safely around your home so your family and guests won't trip and fall. Cord wraps and clips can keep power cords out of the way, and ensure switches are out of reach of any young children who may turn things on inadvertently.

Up on the rooftop

Every winter, neighbourhoods shine bright with lights and decorations and a fun way to get into the holiday spirit is to meander through the streets checking out the displays. Before you get out the ladder and hang your own outdoor lights, it's important to check your surroundings and make sure you're at least 10 feet away from any power lines.

Ladders should only be placed against stable surfaces and it's a good idea to have someone hold the ladder to keep it from moving while you climb up. Remember that the ladder needs to be placed a minimum one metre above the roof surface, and for every four metres up, place the ladder base one metre out from the wall. Be sure to check that all locks on the ladder are set.

A few other things to keep in mind when decorating outdoors:

  • Check the packaging carefully and be sure the lights you're installing are approved for outdoor use. Before you install, confirm the lights are turned off.
  • Use timers or photocells to control your holiday lighting so they can automatically turn off in the evening and when you're away from your home.
  • Keep all cords and electrical connections off the ground, avoid puddles and never use damaged extension cords.
  • Avoid connecting LED light strings with incandescent light strings. Doing this will cause the LED bulbs to wear out more quickly and could create a safety hazard.

Walking in winter

ICBC's road safety statistics show that there is a 76% increase in collisions involving pedestrians from November to January. If you're planning on an evening stroll to admire the holiday lights, make sure you're prepared before you leave the house. Don your best reflective gear and wear flat shoes with good traction. Remain aware of your surroundings, and once you're out in the neighbourhood, make eye contact with drivers, and always use a designated crosswalk.

Stay safe, and happy holidays.

Take the holiday hazard house quiz again.