Holiday safety for hosting and traveling

December 1, 2022 by PEMCO Insurance

holiday-safety-tips_blog.pngFor many families, 2022 marks their first real return to holiday traditions and travel since the pandemic. And what a difference a couple of years can make! Babies have become curious toddlers, elders may be adjusting to different abilities, and travel routines you once knew have changed.  

Our claims experts have 20 tips to help you make the most of the season, whether you’re dusting off your cooking-for-a-crowd skills or traversing the terminal at the airport. 

10 holiday safety tips for hosts and guests 

Did you know that even in an ordinary year, holiday get-togethers fuel a small but noticeable uptick in insurance claims for mishaps ranging from slip-and-fall accidents to DUI crashes? 

Here’s how to avoid everything from toppled tree to an accidental kitchen fire.

  1. De-ice driveways, sidewalks and stairs. Apply de-icer long enough before the party that it has time to work, and check that it’s labeled “pet safe.” Avoid home-remedy de-icers like lawn fertilizer since they can corrode metal, damage concrete and endanger pets, some plants and local waterways. 

  2. Replace your decorative welcome mat with a big, absorbent doormat. That way, people can thoroughly wipe their feet to avoid tracking in water that will make your floor slippery. If you’re normally a “shoes off” house, consider lifting the rule for the day. Supportive shoes provide important traction and stability for elders and, for cooks, shoes can prevent injury if hot liquid gets spilled or a knife gets dropped. 

  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs and remove throw rugs. Good lighting and fewer trip hazards reduce fall risks for older guests and people wearing slick-soled or high-heeled shoes. 

  4. Rope off outside dangers. That includes rail-less raised patios, drop-offs and water features if, for example, a guest steps outside in the dark for some fresh air. Also, tape down electrical cords. Holiday lighting often means running extension cords in places where people could stumble over them, especially in the dark.  

  5. Block hot fireplace glass. An accidental fall against superheated glass (up to 500 degrees on some gas fireplace models) can result in serious burns for a toddler. And if you can’t remember the last time you had your wood-burning fireplace’s chimney cleaned, book an appointment now with a chimney sweep to reduce the risk of a chimney fire

  6. Secure the tree. To toddlers looking to steady themselves, a holiday tree can seem like a good handhold. When they pull, they risk being injured by the toppling tree or falling decor. (You can use a ceiling or wall hook and fishing line to steady the top of the tree – also great if your cat is a climber!)  

RELATED: Choosing the perfect holiday tree starts with safety | PEMCO 

  1. Switch to flameless LED candles. Unlike the real thing, they can’t spill hot wax or ignite flammable decorations if they get bumped. Candles are one reason that, compared to an ordinary day, fire danger doubles on Christmas.  

  2. Give your dog the day off. Ringing doorbells, strange voices and rowdy kids can rattle even a friendly pet. Eliminate the risk of a bite by treating your dog to the serenity of a quiet bedroom until guests leave. 

  3. Appoint a non-cook for doorbell duty. Cooks who dash to greet guests at the door often must leave pots unattended on the stove, a leading cause of kitchen fires. Another surprising kitchen hazard? The dishwasher door! Along with cooking spills, stumbling over an open dishwasher door is a top cause of kitchen falls, so keep it closed. 

  4. Control alcohol intake. Mix modestly and stop serving alcohol at least 90 minutes before the gathering ends. If a guest still overdoes it, offer a ride home or call a rideshare. Alcohol counselors tell us that the best way to convince someone not to drive is to express concern they may get ticketed or lose their license. Oddly, that’s a stronger motivator than your heartfelt worries about their safety or the safety of others.

10 holiday travel-safety tips for drivers and fliers 

Icy roads and crowded airports can zap your holiday zen. Restore calm with these tips: 

  1. Get your car winter-driving ready. That includes any routine maintenance that’s due, along with checking tire tread and making sure you have tire chains on board, even if your car is all-wheel or four-wheel drive. 

  2. Scout alternate “snow routes” to avoid hills and roads prone to weather closures. You may have to ignore your GPS! Let relatives know you’ll delay your trip in snowy conditions to give highway crews, traffic and daytime melting a chance to clear the road.   

  3. Carry an emergency kit that includes gloves, a water-resistant blanket, warm clothes, nonperishable food and water, sand or old-fashioned non-clumping cat litter (traction if you get stuck), ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables and washer fluid. During the trip, don’t let your gas tank dip below half-full so you won’t have to worry about running out of gas if a weather-snarled commute leaves you stuck on the highway for hours. 

  4. Choose direct flights whenever possible, which eliminate the possibility of missed connections and reduce the risk of lost luggage. Book early or late departures to avoid peak crowds, and consider flying Dec. 24 or 25. Dec 23 is usually the busiest travel day of the year.

  5. Pay with a travel rewards credit card. Lost luggage and rental-car fender benders are (thankfully!) uncommon. But if you find yourself in either predicament, you’ll be glad you booked your flight and paid for your rental car with a credit card that includes automatic perks and insurance coverage for travelers. (Check your card agreement to see what it offers.) 

  6. Ship gifts directly to your destination (often free with online shopping, and some sellers even offer gift-wrapping). If you must take gifts with you, pad them well in your suitcase and don’t wrap them until you reach your destination. Security may unwrap them to check what’s inside. 

  7. Allow extra time at the airport. Arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international trips. The airline industry is still recovering from COVID-sparked staffing issues. To smooth your journey through the TSA line, put items like your keys and spare change into your carry-on rather than tossing them in the bin for inspection. Food items, however, often trigger manual carry-on inspections, so put them in a clear plastic bag and set them in the bin. Consider applying for the TSA PreCheck Program or Clear to speed your trip through the airport. 

  8. To reduce the risk of lost luggage if you deplane on a diverted flight, don’t rely on the airline to automatically forward your bags through to whatever new airline you’re assigned to. If you have a long enough layover, physically reclaim your bag, go back through TSA and check it yourself at the new airline’s ticket counter. Also, consider adding a luggage tracker (like an Apple AirTag) that can help you find your bag using your smartphone if you’re separated. 

  9. When renting a car, consider buying the optional coverage offered at the counter. Your PEMCO auto policy does cover rental cars, with certain limitations. However, to ensure a worry-free trip, many of our colleagues purchase the added coverage offered by the rental company, especially when traveling companions may share the driving. 

  10. PEMCO can help. Your PEMCO policies include help for travelers. Your home or renter policy can replace lost or stolen luggage, less your policy deductible.  





How to get rid of packing material | PEMCO 


Recycle, don't burn, used wrapping paper | PEMCO 


Heirloom holiday decorations could be a hazard | PEMCO 

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