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Colorful lights, burning candles, flickering flames in the fireplace, extra cooking and careless company all add up to a heightened risk of house fires during the winter holidays.
Prevent fires by buying safety-rated and certified electrical devices, keeping children away from flames and stoves, and inspecting every cord and decoration before rigging it up for the season.
Never leave a flame unattended, even for a little while. Extinguish candles, bank fires and turn off heaters and ranges if you are going to be away from them.
More accidental house fires occur in November and December than at other times of the year.
Be prepared in case it happens at your home.
A few tips:
• Equip your kitchen with fire extinguishers that will put out small, contained fires before they spread.
• Practice a fire drill with your family so that everyone knows the best way to calmly evacuate your house in case of a fire.
• Photograph or film every angle of every room in your house. During a fire, the contents of your home can burn beyond recognition. Often the only way for you to remember everything you had—and to prove it to your insurance company—is to have an inventory of it. A visual inventory is better than a written inventory without pictures. Store this visual record in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe, with a relative or in a safety-deposit box.
• Double-check with your insurance carrier that you have adequate insurance both to restore the structure (exterior plus interior walls, windows, floors, roof and other built-in pieces of your home) and interior contents (furniture, appliances, clothing, jewelry, for instance). You might be surprised to learn you don’t have enough coverage.
Careful use of electricity and containment of flames will help prevent catastrophe from happening. Inventories and insurance will prevent the devastation from compounding into a financial nightmare if something does go wrong.