Bellingham Athletic Club

Home for the Holidays

Holidays are a special time for friends and family getting together. However, they are also an excellent time for accidents in the home to happen. Taking family members to the ER has become something of a tradition in my house.

Make your home safe for all ages ~

The Kitchen

  Use a timer when cooking; fires can start from burning foods

  Don’t leave cooking food unattended

  Keep oven mitts, towels, and aprons away from heat sources

  Consider making a 3 ft. kid and pet-free zone to prevent accidental burns

  If you’ve got young children visiting, consider placemats in place of tablecloths that might get yanked, breaking china or worse, tipping over lit candles

  Provide a highchair for young visitors, and make sure that it is properly secured

The Tree

Fresh trees

  Check for brown needles; a dry tree can be a fire hazard

  Check for spiders and other pests before bringing the tree indoors

  Secure the tree to prevent it from tipping over

Artificial trees

  Make sure it is fire-resistant and lead-free

  Keep the tree away from the fireplace and candles

  If an artificial tree comes with lights installed, look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal of approval.


  Keep glass ball and other breakable ornaments on higher branches, away from a child’s reach

  Before using, check lights for frayed cord and damaged sockets

  Indoor lights stay indoors

  Use a step ladder, not a chair, to get to the high spots

  One and Done extension cords – don’t plug two extension cords together

  Keep the tree skirt close to the tree to avoid tripping opportunities or skip it altogether

  Make sure the furniture is well spaced out to reduce tripping accidents

Wrapping Paper and Packages

  Pick up clutter; wrapping paper can hide tripping hazards

  Packaging popcorn and plastic can be choking hazards

  Don’t put wrapping paper in the fireplace; sudden fire flashes can be dangerous

  Small toys and lithium batteries can be choking hazards, make sure they are out of small children’s reach

Other Rooms

  Small rugs can cause tripping; best to avoid altogether, but if you must, use grip tape

  Add slip-resistant treads or decals to the tub and shower floors for overnight guests

  Provide plenty of lighting. Night lights are helpful

  Check to make sure you have anti-scald fixtures on faucets, 120° is the hottest the water should be

  Add handrails in halls and grab bars in the bathroom to help older visitors

Be Prepared

  Check that smoke alarms are working, and fire extinguishers are fresh

  A complete first aid kit should be easily accessible

  Keep a few flashlights with new batteries available

  Keep front walks and entries clear of tripping hazards or ice

  Make sure that your house numbers can be seen easily from the street in case the Fire Department needs to find you (as if the billowing smoke isn’t enough)

Making your home safe for visitors isn’t difficult. It just takes a little planning ahead and paying attention to the possible trouble spots.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.