19 December 2014

Prevention Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

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It’s no secret that we all like to relax over the Holidays and allow ourselves a few more excesses than usual. 'Tis the season! However, as your insurer, our top priority is to make sure everything goes smoothly for your or your loved ones without any hassle. When it comes to getting ready for the festivities in your family, you’re the boss. And we’ll be happy to give you a “Christmas hamper” full of practical tips to make sure the Holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year for you.

Safety at the dinner table

Are you a fondue fan? If you’re looking for a fun (and easy!) dish to share, fondue is hard to beat. Picture the scene: you’re having fun, dipping into the fondue pot and drinking plenty of wine, when all of a sudden the burner goes out. There’s still lots of cheese in the pot though, so you need to fill up the burner to keep the fondue going. Be careful, though! You should never pour fondue fuel into a hot burner. Why not? Heat plus fuel equals fire, and you’ve invested far too mush in your party outfit and table decorations to see all of your efforts go up in a puff of smoke! The solution: either use a second burner, or rinse the hot one out with cold water before refilling it. If you want our opinion, it’s far preferable, and less risky, to make sure you have a second burner at the ready in case you need it!

Cosy up in front of an open fire, but be safe

There’s nothing cosier than relaxing in front of an open fire, right? True, but only if you’ve had your chimney swept and inspected before you light your first fire of the season. You should know that creosote can build up in chimneys and ducts, which might start a chimney fire. Once you’ve made sure your chimney is safe, go right ahead and light the fire, but don’t forget to use a fireguard, otherwise a stray spark might just set your carpet, your Christmas tree or your clothes on fire too! Candles can also help create a cosy atmosphere. Just be sure never to leave the room without blowing them put first! To be safe, avoid putting candles on the Christmas tree and placing them near curtains, armchairs, carpets and other parts of your decor that might catch fire.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Nothing says “Christmas” quite like a real tree. And if you want to keep your tree looking healthy all through the Holiday season, you need to keep the base well watered. We recommend watering your tree once a day. Also bear in mind that your natural tree can catch fire very quickly through contact with the Christmas lights on its branches. Be sure to only use low-energy bulbs designed for indoor use. Here are sometips that just make sense:

-       Turn your tree lights off whenever you leave the house

-       Turn your tree lights off when you go to bed

Plug in, but don’t blow a fuse

It’s so tempting to plug all of your tree lights and other Holiday decorations into the same plug socket. But doing so can quickly become a recipe for disaster! To prevent accidents, use a safe power bar and keep it easily accessible. Time to say goodbye to that old frayed extension cord!

Clear snow build-up to stop your roof caving in

Over the Holidays, and in fact all winter long, be sure to clear the snow from the roof of your house, garage and garden shed regularly to prevent it in due to the weight of the snow.

Keep a cool head behind the wheel

When you get behind the wheel to go visit family and friends, you might be in for a short or a long drive. Since weather conditions can change quickly in the winter time, it’s best to prepare for the worst.

What should you do if you’re trapped in your car during a snowstorm? First of all, it might not be easy, but don’t panic. Whatever you do, stay inside the car, even if you’re waiting for help, unless you know you can get help nearby and only if you can walk for help safely. Make sure you’re visible, by turning on your four-way flashers or lighting a flare. If you have to stay in your car for a long time, run the engine for only about 10 minutes every hour and keep the window opened slightly on the side away from the wind to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. Also make sure the tail exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. Stay warm inside the car by bundling up in a blanket. If someone else is in the car with you, share the blanket. That way, you’ll both give off more heat. Be sure to cover your head and neck too. Also, make sure you don’t fall asleep. Keep moving regularly and do some exercises to keep the circulation going. Finally, be on the lookout for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Prepare a survival kit for your car

In an emergency, a survival kit is a must. Here’s what your kit should contain:

  • Properly fitting tire chains
  • Bag of sand or road salt
  • Traction mats
  • Snow shovel, snow brush, ice scrape
  •  Booster cables
  • Warning devices (flares, emergency lights)
  • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate)
  • Extra windshield washer fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures
  • Flashlight and portable flashing lights (and spare batteries) 
  • Blanket 
  • Extra clothing, including hat, wind-proof pants and warm boots
  • First aid kit
  • Food (granola bars, etc.)
  • Help signs, devices or other brightly-coloured banners

Now you’re ready to face the worst winter can throw at you and any obstacles that might get in your way! We hope you have a wonderful winter Holiday surrounded by those you love. But just in case you do happen to get into trouble, we’re here to help.

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