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Video: Holiday home safety tips

TODAY contributor
updated 12/10/2008 10:46:41 AM ET 2008-12-10T15:46:41

With the holidays upon us, chances are you'll have lots of family and friends in your home over the next few weeks — but how safe is it? Slips and falls account for over a million injuries in the U.S. alone. And many happen right in your own home. Some other things to worry about are holiday candles, loose or broken furniture, even safe usage of your holiday lighting. Here are some tips to keep you safe and sound at home:

Safety first this holiday season

Secure your rugs
Floor mats: At our house we place holiday mats and rugs to welcome our guests. But those rugs can be slippery, and that can easily lead to a fall. Use double-sided carpet tape or an anti-slip mat under the rugs to keep them in place. If you use the tape, you may find some residual adhesive left after you remove it. That can be easily removed with a plastic putty knife and a little mineral spirits.

Alarms for your candles
At our house we burn a lot of holiday candles and while I love the look, I am always nervous that we will go to sleep and leave some on. Our trick is once we light them, we set the oven timer to go off around the time we usually go to bed. That familiar ding helps me to remember to blow them out. A digital timer can do the trick as well. We also use flameless candles. These use batteries and when you look at them, you would swear they are real.

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Fix your furniture
Fix loose furniture: The last thing you want is Aunt Mary to fall off of a rickety dining room chair. Flip it over and use some expanding glue to tighten everything up. If possible, pull out any loose leg or arm part. Apply the glue — carpenter’s glue works great, or try a product called Wonder Lock ’Em. Then tighten it with a strap or old bicycle tube and let dry for 24 hours. “More ham, Aunt Mary?”

Electricity: Pay attention, particularly outside
Outdoors, you need to make sure that all of your holiday lights are plugged into a GFCI outlet. These are basically mini circuit breakers to protect from electrical shorts or shocks. Most homes have these types of outlets installed, but if not, there are in-line GFCIs you can install. Yellow Jacket is one maker of these; you plug it into your outdoor receptacle and it has the breaker built in.

Timers for all of your lights
To conserve energy and make your life a lot easier, consider using timers on all of your holiday lights. You never want to leave lights unattended, and by using the timers you can ensure they get shut off when you go to bed or even leave for work.

Make sure your tree doesn’t wreck the halls by falling over
If you are going to have a real tree in your home, make sure you have a very sturdy base to hold it up. Look for a base that holds at least a gallon of water, as more water means a healthier-looking tree that won't dry out. There are also easy adjustable types that make getting a perfect look of attention a snap.

Take a good look around at all of the items you put out for the holidays that are not normally present and make sure that you are not creating a potential hazard while you are being festive. And have a safe and happy holiday season!

Need more advice from Lou Manfredini? Go to www.housesmartstv.com

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