Season of Safety: Safer Celebrating at Home
In this final installment of our Season of Safety series, we’re getting your home ready for the New Year! We’ll go over some basics to keep it (and you) safe during your big bash.
Outside Your Home
First, let’s look at a few things to take care of outside. Start by making sure your decorations are up and out of reach from passersby. Vandalism tends to rise during holidays, and the best way to keep people away from your things is to keep them out of reach. Lighting should be secured higher up on the roof line or tree branches. While you’re at it, check on the plugs and make sure the lighting hasn’t been damaged by weather. Decorating your windows instead of having outdoor fixtures is also a nice alternative.
Next let’s ensure your exterior pathways are clear. In California, not everyone’s trees are bare at the end of the year. Clean up newly fallen leaves and make sure those pathway lights haven’t been uprooted from the rain.
Keep Your Cars Safe.
Park your cars in the garage if possible. If you can’t bring your vehicles in, keep them in the driveway or at the very least under a nearby street lamp. Do your best to have vehicles parked in spots visible from your home. Don’t forget to activate your car alarm and verify that vehicle doors and trunks are shut and locked.
Inside Your Home
We know candles are a great way to enhance the ambiance of a party, but they’re a big hazard and a major cause of house fires. Use battery powered alternatives. LED candles last longer, are much safer and can be reused. Most of the modern options even flicker and show movement like real candles. Depending on size, most battery powered choices are affordable too. You can have the same look and avoid fire dangers. If kids will be part of your celebration, then this is a must.
If you insist on real candles, make sure they are kept out of reach of children and a far enough distance from walls, curtains and decorations.
Speaking of other decorations, make sure those string lights aren’t overloading a single outlet. Solar charged alternatives are also available if you’re willing to take a last-minute trip to the store (or if you haven’t done your shopping yet). Next, look for breakables that can be put away. If it isn’t part of your party décor, store those glass and ceramic items or move them out of heavy traffic areas.
In the Kitchen.
Start by being mindful. The kitchen is usually the busiest part of a home, and this is especially true during big gatherings. Try to keep kids out of the kitchen that day, and don’t get distracted while cooking. Even the best cooks will leave a kitchen towel or potholder close to open flames when they can’t give cooking their full attention.
Prep as much as you can earlier in the day or the night before to minimize activity during the party; less rushing means less stress. Things like table cloths, trays and platters can all be readied and organized ahead of time. If you’re using food warmers, set them in place, and make sure they are out of reach of children and away from decorations.
Also, consider using earth-friendly disposable options instead of breakable plates and glasses. There are attractive choices everywhere. Not only do they make clean up easier, but they are safer during those inevitable party accidents. Of course, we’d all like to make a toast with our finer stemware, but broken glass (especially the expensive kind) at a party is a no-no for a safer season.
It's Party Time
Our favorite tip for New Years Eve parties is to think of the end of the party first. As guests arrive, ask them how they got there and how they’re getting home. Knowing who are designated drivers, who’ll be spending the night, and who might need a ride home (ride share or very good friend) will give everyone peace of mind. Don’t forget to have coffee brewed for those designated drivers at the end of the night.
Have Places Designated for Activities.
This keeps traffic from getting heavy in the kitchen and serving areas. Giving kids room to move around freely is a particularly good idea. This doesn’t mean banishing them to some far off corner of your home or turning your living room into a playground. It just means making a space child proof, whether shared between kids and adults or not; limiting breakables, moving tables out or off to the side, and securing rugs to the floor can go a long way here. Kids and non-cooking adults can stay entertained and out of a busy kitchen.
Watch those Fireworks. Literally.
When it comes to activities, we encourage you to watch a professional, legal fireworks display, and not set off your own at home. Most communities have approved fireworks displays for the holiday. It goes without saying that fireworks are a huge fire danger and easily cause injury or worse. In California, the safe and sane fireworks laws have variations county by county and are ambiguous as to their use outside of the Fourth of July. Don’t take any risks; you might be breaking the law.
We hope these tips will help you start the New Year off right. We wish you a joyous and safe celebration, and look forward to another year of planning and protecting the unexpected.