Your home holiday hazard checklist

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'Tis the season to be jolly, but it's also a season of stress. Beyond how taxing this time of year can be on the bank account, you've also got a full calendar of get-togethers, decorating and getting ready for vacation. Here's a checklist to help you enjoy the eggnog and carols stress-free.

The lights

Holiday decorations are nothing without lights. But as beautiful as they can make your home, they can also come with a few hazards. Here are some ways you can avoid them:

  • Always be sure to use approved lights that meet Canadian safety standards, and be sure to follow the manufacturer's use and safety instructions. Candles should never be placed close to decorations, especially the Christmas tree (and of course, never leave a lit candle unattended). Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.
  • Give your lights a look before you string them up and plug them in, and assess any damage that may have been caused during storage.

The tree

While magical, your Christmas tree can be a hazard. Below are some steps to help keep it safe:

  • Be extra cautious about where your tree is standing — it should be well away from fireplaces, radiators and heaters, and it should not block access to any doorways.
  • If you're buying an artificial tree, make sure to follow the manufacturer's use and safety instructions.
  • For a real tree, make sure it's fresh. Older trees tend to be dryer, and represent a greater fire hazard.
  • Cut the bottom of your tree before putting it in its stand. It will allow water to penetrate easier and keep it hydrated. Also, be sure your base is sturdy and the tree is screwed in well.
  • Check the water in your tree stand at least daily (more often when you've first put the tree up) and be sure to keep it filled.

The kitchen

During the holiday season, there is often something (or many things) cooking or baking. When guests are over and it's time to play host, it's easy to get distracted from what's on the stove.

  • Test your smoke alarms. Make sure there are several around your house, especially near or in the kitchen.
  • Avoid drinking while you cook. The holidays are a popular time for festive libations, but they could leave you dangerously distracted from the task at hand.
  • Minimize multi-tasking. It's tempting to be time-efficient and cook a lot of things at once, but be careful how much you try to manage. You could risk a fire if you forget about something on the back burner (literally).

The fireplace

It's a cherished spot during the colder months, and a favourite feature during the cozy holiday season. But it does come with potential hazards.

  • Don't place any greens, boughs, papers or other flammable decorations on or near the mantle.
  • You should also avoid the temptation to throw discarded wrapping paper into the fireplace. It could cause a flash fire if the paper ignites too quickly.

For further fireplace safety information, click here.

The kids (and pets)

During the hectic holiday season, it can be hard to keep a watchful eye on the littlest members of the family. But there are some preventative steps you can take to help keep them out of danger:

  1. Watch out for choking hazards. Small decorations and party favours like candy canes should be well out of reach. The same goes for gift-wrapping tools and supplies like scissors or cellophane, and sharp objects you may use to fasten or decorate with.
  2. Forget the tinsel. It's a traditional holiday decoration, but pets can choke on it and curious toddlers may want to put it in their mouths.
  3. If you light candles, keep them up high on a sturdy surface where little hands and wagging tails can't touch them – and of course never leave a lit candle unattended by a responsible adult.

The vacation

The holiday season is a perfect time for skilled burglars to be on the lookout for empty houses of vacationing families. If you're going away for the holidays, make sure you don't leave home without taking proper precautions.

  • Take extra care to secure your home and property (not just from burglars, but from weather too).
  • If you take vacations often, you should consider installing a home security system.
  • Do not tell strangers you plan to be away. You never know whom you might be talking to.
  • Install timers on some of your interior lights so you'll appear to be home after dark.
  • Have a trusted friend or relative check in a few times a week.

How to make a claim

Call 1-877-251-8656 to speak with a Claims Advisor.

Renewing your policy

Call 1-877-251-8652 for information regarding policy renewal.

Buying a new policy

Call 1-866-660-9035 for information on obtaining a quote.

Need help?

Take a look at the top 5 FAQs:

  • Why should I have home insurance?

    Why should I have home insurance?

    While the government doesn't require you to purchase home insurance, your mortgage-holder probably will - at least enough to cover its share of ownership. There are various kinds of home insurance that cover general and specific kinds of damage to your home, and you should research your options carefully. You can also buy specialized insurance to cover a condominium, home business, or other kind of property or valuables found in your home.

    Home insurance also includes liability coverage for people who are hurt on your property.

  • Why should I buy tenant's insurance when I live in an apartment and don't have many contents or valuables?

    Why should I buy tenant's insurance when I live in an apartment and don't have many contents or valuables?

    Most people would be surprised at the value of their personal property if they were to add it up and have to replace it all immediately. Think about your furniture, clothing, electronic equipment-then try to put a price tag to it all. Also, if you've purchased items on credit and they are stolen or destroyed by fire, you could still have to make the payments.

    Tenants insurance also includes liability insurance for damage the tenants or their guests cause to the building, for injuries in the rented home, etc.

  • How can I earn PC® points?

    How can I earn PC® points?

    When you use your President's Choice Financial® MasterCard® to pay your PC home insurance premium, you'll get 20 PC points per dollar of your premium. If you use your President's Choice Financial bank card to pay your PC home insurance premium, you'll get 10 PC points per dollar of your premium.

  • What is a deductible?

    What is a deductible?

    A deductible is your share of the amount that needs to be paid to cover the repair or replacement of your covered property before your insurance pays the rest.

  • How are premiums calculated?

    How are premiums calculated?

    The building itself has a lot to do with how your home insurance premiums are set. Many things about your home are taken into consideration including:

    • Its age and size
    • Type of building (detached, semi, high rise, etc)
    • Type of construction (brick, stucco, wood, etc)
    • Type of heating system
    • How close it is to a fire hydrant or fire station
    • Where it is located

See all Home Insurance FAQs

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