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Your halls are decked and the stockings have been hung, whatnow? If you’re one of the 6.3 million Americans set to travel thisholiday season, you’re likely off to spend time with friends orfamily. Other families choose to host a crowd, drawing relatives infrom across the country. Whatever your situation, odds are yourseason will present different issues from your daily life. Beforeyou get in the car or open your doors, be sure to read these usefulholiday safety tips.

Fortify your home

Holiday vacationers are some of the easiest targets forburglars, often because they are gone for long periods of time.Every year, nearly 40,000 people are robbed during the month ofDecember. When you leave your house this year, be sure to checkthat all locks are secure and you’ve got a lighting timer set.

You should move all gifts and expensive items away from windowsso thieves can’t easily see what’s in your home. Another solutionfor conscientious homeowners is to install a home alarm system foradded peace of mind. Many new digital alarmsystems are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, meaningyou still have enough time before the holidays hit.

Check your decor

One of the most prevalent underlying causes of wintertime homefires is seemingly harmless Christmas decor. Items such as naturalgarland, ribbon and especially string lights are potentiallyflammable when positioned together. Before you leave your house fora night or a week, check to make sure all holiday lights are off.Fireplaces and candles, with their warm, festive glows can also behazardous, so be sure to extinguish all open flames when exitingthe premises.

Protect your children

Christmas can be a dangerous time for young children. Manychildren fall each year while climbing and reaching in search ofgifts, or even coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. Be sureto keep doors closed and closets locked, remembering that extendedtime away from school means more time at home for your kids.Slippery winter weather can also be treacherous, so be sure toinvest in non-slip footwear and appropriately warm outerwear foryour kids.

Keep guests safe

The holidays often mean having a house full of people from outof town, sometimes including the elderly. Older people are moreprone to falls than most and can have a myriad of unfamiliar healthissues. Before your family piles in, check to see if they have anyfood allergies or special health requirements. It may be wise tooffer lower-level accommodations to those with limited mobility asstairs can pose a daunting challenge. Be sure to have localemergency medical contact information in your area in case of anissue. Remember, too, that many people have pet allergies or fears,so keep that in mind before you let Fido run through the house.

Holiday time is both fun and stressful for most people,particularly those hosting a crowd. In addition to the everydaysafety concerns faced at home, the winter season presents its ownseasonal challenges. This year, take the time beforehand to protectand prepare your family for a busy and exciting holiday, free fromaccidents or unwelcome surprises.