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15 Smart Holiday Safety Tips & Precautions

Home Security Tips Fire Alarm Systems Security Systems Smart Homes Nov 30, 2022 1:21:34 PM General Security 11 min read

Modern living room and gas fireplace with holiday decorations

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2020 and has been revised repeatedly, including in November 2023, to reflect industry updates.

From gathering with friends and family, embracing the holiday spirit and taking time to appreciate the small things in life, the holidays offer a rare respite from the grind of everyday activities.

Yet, this time of year also comes with unique stressors, from financial considerations to unexpected challenges, such as potentially avoidable accidents.

As you're enjoying annual traditions, it’s important to be mindful of various household safety precautions and hazards: 

  • These include poor wiring and lighting-related mishaps, carbon monoxide exposure, unsatisfactory anti-theft measures (packages left unattended for too long), inadequate home security—especially if you're vacationing during the holidays—and much more.
  • According to Southern California-based hospital system UCLA Health, some of the most common holiday-related accidents include slips and falls, toy-related injuries, household fires, and cuts and lacerations—to name a few.
  • In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that "dry Christmas trees, burning candles, and busted holiday lights can lead to dangerous and even deadly fires."

When drafting your holiday safety checklist, consider pairing appropriate items with Alarm.com smart technologies for easy access and automation from any mobile device.

Here are 15 useful tips for safeguarding your home, family, and property this holiday season.


1. Christmas Trees & Lights

Both artificial and fresh-cut Christmas trees require safety precautions. According to international nonprofit The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2015 and 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 160 home fires sparked by Christmas trees.

As the Consumer Product Safety Commission states, "Never string together more than three sets of incandescent lights, and never overload electrical outlets."

When displaying a live Christmas tree, it's recommended to regularly check water levels to avoid dryness and possible fires, as depicted in this live tree burn video from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ensure safe placement away from gas fireplaces, vents, or electric heaters. Choose fire-resistant artificial trees. Schedule regular watering reminders for live trees to prevent falling needles and dryness. Trees should also be removed or recycled by mid-January to avoid inadvertent fire hazards.

Lights should comply with the highest safety standards designated by global safety science nonprofit Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Certification verifies the product has successfully passed its requirements for fire, electric shock, and other dangers. 

Consider testing older models, and avoid additional risks, such as linking multiple light strings.

Here are some tips to help prevent problems stemming from Christmas trees and other decorations:

  • Avoid Lights With Frayed & Exposed Wires
  • Consult the Manufacturer’s Instruction Guide for Safe Assembly
  • Avoid Overloading Electrical Outlets
  • Don’t Use Indoor Lights Outside & Vice-Versa


Add smart plugs/outlets to automatically turn holiday lights on and off. These internet-connected devices not only help ensure lights turn off as scheduled, but they help create better energy efficiency—which is key during the holiday season.


2. Electrical Cord & Electrical Outlet Best Practices

While many homeowners want to capture the holiday spirit through colorful lights and decorations, be sure to follow safety precautions to address any potential hazards. Be especially aware of extension cords, and consult the following best practices: 

  • Avoid Connecting Two Extension Cords 
  • Ensure Indoor Cords Aren’t Used Outside & Vice-Versa
  • Don’t Run Cords Through Ceilings & Walls
  • Never Plug a Two-Prong Cord into a Three-Prong Outlet 


Attach electrical cords via an UL-approved smart power strip to avoid overheating.

Some of the most common holiday-related accidents include slips and falls, toy-related injuries, household fires, and cuts and lacerations—to name a few.


3. Have Your Gas Fireplace Checked & Inspected

These and other gas-fueled sources such as appliances, grills, motor vehicles, and wood stoves can potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning if not inspected regularly. It’s also prudent to have your chimney checked and swept to remove blockages, soot, and other potential dangers.

Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms provide protection against this dangerous gas. When purchased through a services provider such as General Security, homeowners can add Central Station Monitoring to directly alert local authorities and first responders. 


Set alerts for immediate carbon monoxide and smoke detection, and low or missing battery notifications


4. Protect & Secure Front-Porch Areas

Beware so-called “porch pirates”—those hoping to steal delivered packages from front porches. These perpetrators are more prevalent during the busy online holiday shopping season, and such thefts go largely undetected due to their swift, inconspicuous nature. To underscore the point, 79% of Americans in 2022 said they were victims of package theft.

To help deter these and other potential intruders, consider front door and doorbell cameras. Equipped with two-way audio, residents can initiate conversations from inside the home or via the Alarm.com mobile app.

Some models can also remotely answer and unlock your door for family members and friends, childcare providers, and home health aides. 


Look for cameras with smart features such as two-way audio, remote viewing, night vision, motion detection, and video analytics

5. Check on Elderly Loved Ones & Neighbors

Many homeowners are utilizing security cameras equipped with two-way audio and video to check on and chat with elderly family members, children, and even pets. 

Smart technologies such as Wellness and WellCam provide real-time footage and  communication. Both also integrate with Alarm.com Personal Emergency Response (PERS) pendants for immediate Central Station Monitoring connections.


Remotely check in with loved ones via any mobile device!


6. Safeguard Appliances & Other Potentially Dangerous Household Items

Inspecting and securing stoves, ovens, and grills is the best defense against potential cooking accidents. Ensure all appliances work appropriately, and never leave children or pets unattended when the kitchen becomes a hot zone.

According to the NFPA, Thanksgiving and Christmas experienced the highest instances of cooking-related home structural fires in 2019.

Turkey fryers have also become a popular way to cook during the holidays. While convenient and freeing up oven space, these appliances also require safety measures. Any electric frying device must be used outside, at least 10 feet away from any structures. Place it on a flat surface to avoid tipping, and never overfill it to avoid spilling dangerously hot oil. Prior to submerging the turkey, ensure even oil temperature—as overheating can potentially lead to fires.


Install smart stove and grill guards for automatic appliance shutoff. 


7. Prevent Leaks & Flooding
With Moisture Detection

Flood and temperature sensors can safeguard any living space from possible moisture and water damage. When installed in normally dry areas, these alert to interior and exterior issues, such as leaking pipes, sinks, toilets, and faulty appliances.

This technology is also useful for seasonal or rental properties. Even when you’re not physically in the home, smart technologies transmit real-time warnings via any mobile device app.


Place sensors in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements for real-time leak detection.


8. Install Contact Sensors for Break-In Detection

When properly placed above doors and windows, contact sensors can immediately detect intrusions and break-ins when triggered. As an important component of any home alarm system, these can also be added to garages and outdoor gates. They also serve as wellness monitors on medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and appliances—alerting when opened or activated. 


Contact sensors can be programmed to change the lighting and temperature, and activate when motion is detected.


9. Keep Doors & Windows Locked & Secured

When hiding spare keys, avoid obvious spots such as welcome mats, flower pots, and door jambs. Choose more inconspicuous locations including sheds, garages, and outdoor lockboxes, or enlist a trusted neighbor to keep a set.


When programmed with a unique user code, smart locks can secure and unlock doors whether you’re home or away.


10. Check & Monitor Decorative Candles

While they provide added holiday cheer, unattended decorative candles are fire hazards. According to the NFPA, from 2015 to 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 7,400 home structure fires started by candles.

Similar to Christmas trees and lights, it’s best to keep them away from flammable materials. Never leave them unattended or burning for extended periods, and remember to extinguish them when retiring for the evening. 


Set a timer or digital reminder so candles don’t burn for extended periods, or consider flameless, battery-operated light sources.

11. Don't Forget About Pet Protection & Safety

Animals can trigger motion sensors, leading to false alarms with even the most advanced smart home devices. This can all be remedied by programming specific settings, while also remotely monitoring household pets.

Keeping pets safe from common household items is also a concern. The nonprofit American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends securing Christmas trees and loose decorations; removing illness-causing plants, food, and beverages; and keeping wires, cords, and other hazards out of reach.


Set up all motion sensors correctly to avoid false alarms, and use security cameras to stay in touch.


12. Stay Safe When Placing Indoor
& Outdoor Decorations

It’s important to check and inspect holiday lights, and extension cords and outlets, for potential hazards. Safe decoration placement is also critical. Independent federal regulatory agency the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported approximately 14,800 emergency room visits due to holiday-related decorating injuries during 2019.

Refrain from using furniture as ladders or step stools, and ensure all decorations are working properly.


Inspect and check ladders and other equipment for optimum safety.


13. Ensure Working Smoke Detectors &
Carbon Monoxide Monitors

Smoke and carbon monoxide are dangerous and potentially fatal. Ensuring your home’s fire and life safety devices have been checked and inspected is paramount. Listen for any beeping or chirping, which could indicate carbon monoxide presence. If so, fire emergency personnel and first responders must be contacted immediately. 


Regularly inspect and check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

14. Keep Vehicles Properly Maintained
for Safe Driving

Whether you have a new driver in the family, or want to keep tabs on an elderly loved one, it’s important to ensure vehicles are maintained and monitored for safe driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more vehicular accidents occur during the holiday season than any other time of the year. 

If you plan to be out of town for the holidays, consider purchasing a GPS tracking device, such as Alarm.com Connected Car for real-time mobile alerts. This provides invaluable information regarding vehicle location and diagnostics, speeding, and other important safety details.


Add Connected Car for 24/7 peace of mind regarding driver whereabouts, safety, and vehicle diagnostics.


15. Create a Home Safety Checklist for Your Family

Set a family meeting to discuss home safety and emergency preparedness. The Red Cross advises homeowners to adopt and practice home emergency safety plans biannually.


Download this free Home Safety Checklist from General Security to get started.


Ensuring Safe & Happy Holidays

When developing your home safety plan, it’s best to work with a reputable service provider such as General Security for help and guidance.

General Security provides home safety and security measures for homeowners along the U.S. East Coast. Request a free quote to learn more about these and other tips.