Celebrate But Don’t Forget to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

This is the time of year for holiday cheer and celebrations, as holiday decorations, shopping, and parties fill the calendar. While you’re enjoying the holidays, the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) urges all Texans to remember to keep yourself and your valuables safe.

Winter Weather Conditions

A sudden and unexpected snowfall in parts of Texas last week and caught many drivers and homeowners by surprise.. The cold weather resulted in a number of house fires sending firefighters into normally quiet neighborhoods and the icy roads and bridges resulted in several multi-car collisions.

During freezing temperatures, Texas motorists are urged to slow down and use caution especially on or near bridges and overpasses. Any unnecessary travel on icy roadways is discouraged. The Texas Department of Transportation offers roadway conditions on its toll-free number at 1-800-452-9292.

Fire Safety

The number of house fires skyrocket during the winter months as many homeowners use their fireplaces for the first time in several months. Before starting a fire, homeowners should inspect their chimney to make sure its vent is open and metal grates are nearby to contain any fire or sparks inside the fireplace.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), www.nsc.org, thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12% of home candle fires occur in December, the National Fire Protection Association reports. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire. NSC recommends:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
  • Keep candles out of reach of children
  • Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
  • Don't burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
  • Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
  • Christmas trees and candles are blamed for a number of house fires during the holiday season. Christmas trees should be well-water and far away from any flames.

No Drinking and Driving

Although we all want to celebrate with friends and family, you should avoid drinking and driving. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, approximately 1,000 people in Texas are killed in alcohol-related crashes every year. The Department of Transportation has set up a resource for anyone who may have had too much to drink and need an alternative way to get home. You can check out this resource at www.SoberRides.org

A useful reminder for holiday safety can also be found here on this “12 Days of Safety” poster, 12DAYS.

Protect Your Valuables

Unfortunately, thieves don’t take the holidays off. If you’re out shopping, please take valuables, such as purses and cell phones, with you instead of leaving them inside your vehicle. Lap tops or recently purchased gifts should be placed in the vehicle’s trunk or hidden out of sight. ICT promotes the Lock, Take and Hide program that encourages motorists to safeguard their belongings by locking their car, taking their keys and hiding their possessions.

If you’re having packages delivered to your home, take steps to avoid becoming a victim of package theft. If possible, have your packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, such as a neighbor’s or relative’s house. If the online retailer provides the option, choose a specific delivery time. Some online stores allow you to have your package delivered to a local store for pick-up.

You also can ask the shipper to require a signature confirmation of delivery in order to prevent packages being left when no one is home to sign for them.

For more holiday safety tips, please visit ICT’s webpage resources on holiday safety at ICT Holiday Safety.

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