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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Naughty Or Nice: How To Keep Your Home Safe This Holiday Season

by Hugo Reed December 17, 2015

“He’s making a list, and checking it twice; Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town.” The winter holidays are single-handedly and undoubtedly one of the most anxiously awaited times of any year. Regardless of what you believe in or what you celebrate, December is a month chock full of festivities and it is important that you keep safety in mind at all times. Nothing ruins the holiday cheer like emergencies that could have been prevented. Keeping your home safe during the holidays is of the utmost importance. Your home is the center of your holiday cheer and goodwill, and we would love to keep it that way. Your family, friends, pets and your house all constitute your home; especially during the holiday season when most of these are under one roof. We want to make sure that it’s all kept safe and that by the time the new year rolls in everyone’s all smiles.

“Lights, Camera, Action”: Holiday Lighting and Electricity Use


There is no question that getting to pick your holiday lights is a well cherished and fun moment. It brings families together and sparks creativity and innovation in everyone. Holidays make for the perfect bonding moments. We just want to make sure you’re safe while you’re making these memories.

When you’re using an old set of decorative lights make sure to carefully untangle the wires and pay close attention to whether they are frayed. You want to ensure that your lights do not have any exposed wires that could be potential fire hazards. If you happen to buy a new set of lights, you want to follow the same procedure just to be safe. It helps to be cautious. Before you start hanging up your lights (indoors and outdoors) make sure you brush up on some basic electric safety tips. Some of which include:

  1. Avoid WATER and SNOW at all times when using electrical equipment.
  2. NEVER use equipment (lights) with frayed cords.
  3. Always use insulated tools when operating or setting up electrical equipment.
  4. NEVER use an aluminum or steel ladder when hanging things outside of your home. If a current surges, it will ground you and the entire current will course through your body. It can be deadly.

When mounting your lights make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t damage their wire insulation. This is the key to keeping them in shape and safe. If you need to hold your lights in place, DO NOT use nails or tacks. It is safer to use insulated staples or to string them through hooks. Also, keep in mind that if you want to move them or take them down to do so gently and not to pull at them. This could cause the insulation to rip and lead to cords being frayed. Make sure you mount your lights at an appropriate height to prevent young children and pets from damaging them and possibly hurting themselves. Most decorative lights are optimized for indoor use, so before you hang any lights outside make sure the label says they are suitable for outdoor use.

The chance of electrical fires is highest in December and as such you need to be extra careful when plugging in your lights. You also need to be cognizant of when you switch them on. Make sure that you don’t overload outlets and extension boards with plugs. Many people tend to do this during the holiday season and end up compromising their safety, and the safety of everything and everyone they love. You never want to connect extension cords to each other, instead, connect a long one to a wall outlet and run it where you need it. You may think you have used multiple extension cords together without incident in the past, but remember that when Christmas lights come into play there is a much greater electric load to bear. There are also many other families utilizing the electric grid in the same manner. Surges happen during the holidays and you want to make sure you don’t get caught with your pants down; save that for Santa.

Some families use electric lights and its many variations while others prefer to use candles and open flames for aesthetic purposes. Whatever the case maybe, make sure you are practicing the best safety standards. For candles and open flames make sure you keep them as far away from combustible materials as possible. It is also best to make sure candles cannot be tipped over near anything that can catch fire. Remember: Open flames and candles should ideally be isolated from anything that is even remotely combustible. It also helps to have a fire extinguisher or something equivalent handy in case of a freak accident.

Key Take Aways

  • Make sure your old holiday lights aren’t frayed
  • Mount lights out of reach for pets and children
  • Don’t overload outlets and extension boards with plugs
  • Place open flames and candles in isolated areas to avoid a fire

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree”: Tree Safety


If you are a family that celebrates Christmas chances are you will have a Christmas tree. If you don’t celebrate Christmas but still have a tree then keep reading. If you don’t have a tree but still celebrate somehow during the holidays, you can skip this section, or keep reading for some insightful tips.

First things first, you need a tree! When picking a Christmas tree take into consideration space and size. You want something that fits comfortably in the allotted space and one that doesn’t block any exits or take up an entire room, because that would make it extremely hard to move in case of emergency. It is always advised to get your tree fresh because they are more fire resistant that way. How to know your tree is fresh:

  1. Fresh trees normally appear green in color and are not tinted or tainted by wear and dust.
  2. The needles of the tree will be hard to pull in comparison to a tree that isn’t fresh.
  3. The needles will not break or appear brittle when you bend them with your fingers.

Another way of making your tree fire resistant is by cutting off a few inches from the tree trunk. This allows the tree to absorb a little bit more water and increases the amount of time it takes to dry up and become another fire hazard. If you prefer to get an artificial tree that is perfectly fine, just make sure you don’t set it up near a fireplace, heater, radiator or an open flame. Homeowners must double-check that the label reads “fire-resistant” this is a precautionary method to make sure your tree isn’t a fire hazard.

It goes without saying that Christmas trees are probably the most eye-catching placeholder of the season, and the more decked out and visible they are, the better. When positioning your tree keep in mind the people and things you have within close proximity to the tree. Make sure the tree stands firmly and properly in place to avoid it being tipped over and possibly causing damage or injury. Hanging your ornaments and lights a little higher on the tree is also sound advice; it prevents curious pets and children from playing around with them and possibly tipping the tree over. The tree can also be a fire hazard, so keep heat sources away from it. Consider buying LED Christmas lights so that the heat from the bulbs will be diminished to prevent tree fires.

It is also best to make sure that you are not allergic to your own Christmas tree! Live and fresh Christmas trees have been reported to carry mold spores that induce many of the symptoms of seasonal allergies. This could range from constant and unrelenting sneezing and soreness in your eyes. This could also result if your artificial Christmas tree was stored improperly before you bought it.

Key Take Aways

  • Make sure your tree fits the space you have comfortably
  • Don’t put your tree near a fireplace, heater, radiator or an open flame
  • For a fresh tree keep it watered, for an artificial one make sure it is fire resistant

“Gather ‘round The Fireplace”: Fire & Fireplace Safety


Fireplaces have become one of the many symbols of Christmas and the holidays that fall in the final month of the year. Fireplaces are much more than just another holiday staple and placeholder, they provide families with warmth; both figuratively and literally. As such, it is extremely important that they are operated with extreme caution and that your home is free of as many fire hazards as possible.

The first step homeowners should take leading up to the holidays is to confirm that their fire alarms and smoke detectors are functioning properly. This simple gesture reduces the chance of a fire getting out of hand without homeowners noticing and increases the probability of safety.

During the year, it is advisable to have your furnace and chimney checked on a regular maintenance schedule and to have it properly cleaned, as well as having the CO (Carbon Monoxide) filter replaced. The neglection of these simple tips could easily lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and that is a sure way to put an end to holiday festivities. Make sure safety is always the number 1 thought in the forefront of your mind over the holidays. We want everyone to be around to enjoy them again next year and years after!

Prior to lighting your fireplace, you want to do a few things:

  1. Remove all combustible materials from your fireplace area. This includes but is not limited to gift wrappings, boughs, paper, fresh greens or tree clippings and any liquids that help fires burn stronger.
  2. Make sure not to overload your fireplace if you are using a traditional wood furnace. If you are using a gas furnace make sure the fire isn’t blazing too hot. Fires that are too big and too hot tend to crack your fireplace and this is not safe for you in the long run.
  3. Use kindling instead of flammable liquids to start the fire. This is simply a precautionary method of making sure the fire does not get out of control.
  4. If you do not have a spark guard, make sure to get one! Sparks and embers tend to fly out of the fireplace and the spark guard helps prevent this. This is essential to have especially if you have your tree and presents near the fireplace.

Once these have all been taken care of you should be able to safely light a fireplace. Most families probably think of fireplaces as the most obvious cause of fires during the holiday season, likely because fireplaces house big burning flames. However, unchecked and forgotten food in the oven is one of the main causes for fires in addition to candles being left unattended or too close to things that can catch fire. It is important to always be vigilant, even more so during the holidays. The U.S. Fire Administration is an invaluable source of knowledge when it comes to fire prevention.

Key Take Aways

  • Always have your fireplace and furnace regularly maintained
  • Never light the fireplace in proximity to combustible materials
  • One of the main causes for fires is unchecked and forgotten food in the oven

“What Else Could We Be Forgetting?… KEVIN!”: Home Safety During Vacation


Keeping your home safe during the holidays is important even if you won’t be around. There are many safety factors you have to consider. That means keeping yourself and your home safe while on vacation. We’re here to help you cover all your bases this holiday season!

One essential step most people overlook is to make sure you don’t publicly advertise that your entire house is going to be empty over the holidays. Regardless of whether or not you have a top notch security system in place, advertising that piece of information increases the probability of burglary. Make sure you keep your travel plans offline no matter how excited you get. Also, if your house is going to be empty, it is best to notify a neighbor or a close friend to pick up your mail for you while you’re gone. If there is a pile of mail accumulating over the holidays, it is pretty evident that there is no one home and burglars will pounce on this opportunity. The holidays are the perfect time to acquaint yourself with those who live around you, if you haven’t done so already. They will most likely be willing to help deter any theft of your property if you ask.

As a second measure of security, make sure all your windows and doors are locked and that the locking mechanisms are functioning properly. If you do not have a home security system installed, this will be the best time to do so. Making checklists over the holidays is a really good way to make sure you tackle everything and it reduces the chances of something or someone being forgotten. Double-check and triple-check everything so that your margin of error is as low as possible. Take a tip from the classic movie “Home Alone” and make sure everyone is where they need to be every moment of the holidays. Make sure that during the holidays you are mindful of who you let into your home. Many criminals come around posed as door-to-door solicitors. This is a common ruse used to see what is in your home and if they get a whiff that you’ll be absent during the holidays they will most likely be back to make off with whatever they can. Be careful who you tell your plans to and be wary of people you don’t know. Follow some of these steps and your home will be here when you get back.

Key Take Aways

  • Don’t post your travel plans online
  • Make sure your home is secure and your alarm system is working before you leave
  • Don’t forget your kids at home
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Be wary of letting people you don’t know into your home

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Underneath The Mistletoe”: Child Safety Over The Holidays


Even if you aren’t a parent, chances are you will be around kids this holiday season. They could be nephews, nieces, grandkids or even the painstakingly annoying yet loveable children of friends. Regardless of your relation to them, if they are in your home, or under your care, it is important to keep some safety tips in mind when dealing with kids. Children may be compromising your home security, so it is even more important to keep them in mind.

Children tend to be extremely curious and are always trying to fill the void that wonder creates. As such, they touch almost anything and play with everything; probably eat it too. Make sure you keep this in mind when hanging ornaments and when deciding your light placement. It is best to hang the lights high enough so that they are out of reach of children. They could easily get tangled in them if they play around it and this poses a choking hazard, also, make sure the lights have no frayed sections that could come into contact with children.

If you are using your fireplace this holiday season, make sure you follow the appropriate fire guidelines that will ensure the continued safety of all the children near it. Hide all matches and lighters so that kids don’t get the chance to play around with them.

Now, one of the most important safety tips is to make sure that you buy age appropriate toys for children. The fact that a child may want something, no matter how badly, does not mean that it is safe for them. Always check the warning labels on the toys and gifts you buy to confirm that they are age appropriate. If you buy a toy that is above their age requirement, you are putting them in danger not giving them a chance to have fun.

Lastly, we all know that the Holiday season is one of the best times for families to show of their interior design skills. If you end up putting decorative plants around your house, make sure keep in mind that some of these are harmful if ingested. Place them in spots where you know no child could reach. This is merely a safe way of making sure nothing happens to them. Some of these plants include but are not limited to: Holly, Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Jerusalem Cherry.

Key Take Aways

  • Lights can be a choking or tripping hazard if not placed out of reach
  • Hide matches and lighters away from the kids
  • Buy age appropriate gifts
  • Kids like to touch and grab, make sure harmful holiday plants are not ingested

Furry Little Family Members: Pet Safety During The Holidays


Your animals provide you with protection. And you may even use a dog instead of an alarm system. But your pet still needs your help to stay safe. Keeping your furriest family members safe during the holidays is a daunting task due to the nature of most pets. They somehow always find something new and dangerous to play with or eat. There are many ways to prevent an unplanned trip to the vet or to the animal emergency center.

When it comes to your Christmas tree make sure you keep the area around it clean and secure to prevent your pet from eating pieces of pine needles and parts of the tree that have found their way to the ground. Ingesting these could lead to intestinal blockage for your pet, which could easily escalate to an emergency situation. Also, try your best to hang your lights as high as possible so that they are out of your pet’s reach. It could lead to the tree tipping over and injuring them, or even worse, they may play with the lights and end up getting electrocuted.

Keep in mind that because of the agile nature of your pets, almost everything in your home that can tip over should be well secured and held down; especially candles. A wagging tail could easily knock a candle over and start a fire.

Key Take Aways

  • Keep the area around your tree free of fallen needles to avoid ingestion
  • Hang decorations as high as possible so that they are out of your pet’s reach
  • A wagging tail can be dangerous throughout your home

Additional Safety Tips For The Holidays

  1. It helps to put your holiday lights on an automatic timer. This kills two birds with one stone. You won’t have to be worried about switching them on or off every day and you can set it to beat the electric crunch time that kicks in between 5 pm and 7 pm. It will also ensure that your home looks occupied even if you are gone for a few days. It deters burglars from marking your home as an easy target.
  2. Try your best not to blatantly advertise the gifts you received. This could be done by either posting them online or leaving your gift boxes out with the trash. It shows everyone around what you have and makes your home a likely target for burglars. Also, ensure that the presents in your house are not easily visible from the outside.
  3. Keep an eye on the weather at all times during the holiday and use it to plan events and trips that involve traveling long distances.
  4. Be careful when shopping online and make sure you only use secure websites. If a website seems fishy to you, or is asking for information you know is not required to make a purchase, then don’t use it.
  5. Celebrate with caution and responsibility these holidays. Make sure not to drink and drive, and to always be aware of your surroundings. If you are going out to celebrate, make sure you do not go alone (there is immense safety in numbers).
  6. When decorating your home avoid using decorations that closely resemble food and candy. This is merely a precautionary way to make sure your children or your pets don’t ingest them.

Have fun this holiday season and enjoy the company of family and friends, but always remember to stay safe at all times!

Category: How To's, Lock Humor, Safety & Security, Travel Security

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