It’s that time of year! The trick or treaters have collected their pumpkins full of candy and the spiderwebs and Jack-O-Lanterns have been pulled down in preparation for the holly and ivy. This is my favorite time of year! While I love the energy that comes with preparing for the holidays, unfortunately that same hustle and bustle brings with it the potential for the unexpected. That’s right… It is time to talk about how to avoid a claim this holiday season.
Not So Festive Fires
As our loved ones travel into our homes, there is nothing better than the aroma of turkey cooking, cookies baking, festive candles, and the waft of pine from the tree. It is the smell of festivity, but sadly, it can also be the scent of danger.
Fires are one of the most common claims filed as the year ends. Often, trees dry out and ignite from those gorgeous twinkling lights, grease fires start when we turn our back to the kitchen, and tinsel and wrapping paper catch fire on the open flame of the centerpiece candle in the flurry of opening presents by little ones.
As we head into the season, remember to check the batteries in your smoke detector and ensure you have a charged fire extinguisher, as well as make certain that you are not overloading any outlets with more than they are designed to handle.
The Sugar Plum-bing Fairy
As a child, I always dreamed of having a large family. After spending my younger years as an only child, I was overjoyed as an adult to gain an extended family that is quite sizable, until it became all too apparent one year that having more than 15 additional house guests translates into a burden on the plumbing system.
Remember all those incredible smells we talked about? There is nothing like a backup to overwhelm those scents with a stench far less enjoyable. The sheer number of clogged toilets I have seen as an adjuster over the holiday season is unbelievable, and beyond the “unmentionable” events that lead to clogs is another culprit that most people do not consider – garbage disposal.
At the holidays, it is common for things to get shoved down the disposal that ordinarily would not; turkey bones and grease are high on the list, but in all the hubbub, it is also possible for non-food items to slip in as well – such as aluminum foil, scrubbers, and utensils. These things have the potential to clog the lines that are already working hard to handle the increased “meetings” happening in the bathroom.
Tinsel, Toys, and Theft
For those of us who still shop brick and mortar stores, it is common for there to be high dollar items in our car trunks that are not normally toted around. Thieves have a tendency to be watching and waiting in parking lots, and the number of vehicle break-ins soar, especially on Black Friday.
Thieves are also watching to see when no one is home. It is so easy to snag wrapped boxes that are stored conveniently under a tree which is usually directly in front of a window, making for a fast smash and grab score. The best ways to combat this? Placing lights on timers around your home helps give the appearance of occupancy. Further, this is the time to consider where your doorbell or other cameras are pointed. Do not post about family outings on Facebook ahead of time or upcoming trips to meet the family. This is an announcement to all the internet “Hey…..We’re not home. C’mon in and rob us.”
Another area of theft that must be mentioned is Identity and Credit Card Theft. For online transactions, make sure you are using a secure site before adding your credit card or payment information. There are a plethora of sites that look legitimate but are not. Even worse than not receiving that perfect gift for a loved one is the maze of having your payment card information compromised and trying to recall what accounts are linked to it for autopay.
If you are utilizing an online payment app such as PayPal or Venmo, make sure that you are paying for Goods and Services on an invoice so that you are given some purchase protection. By doing this, it helps ensure you receive what you have paid for. It happens to the best of us at times, but shopping mindfully on the internet, especially during the holidays, can help save you from this and worse.
Don't Drink and Sleigh
Let’s be real…at many a festive gathering, the adult beverages are flowing, and many of us misjudge how much eggnog or cider to have. This can quickly become an abundance of “holiday cheer.” While no one wants to wake up next to the repercussions of questionable choices made from a few too many cocktails at an office party, there are certainly even more concerning perils that can arise from imbibing like a champion.
We see an increase in injury claims from slips, trips, and falls and dog bites in the home, and of course there is the potential for the not so merry flashing lights in the rear-view mirror if you are driving. As you are enjoying all the festivities of the season, please ensure that if you have had a little too much holiday “spirit” that you are navigating a safe trip home with a designated driver or ride sharing service.
Safeguarding Your Holidays
We hope you have a safe, loving, and joyous holiday season and that you are not visited by the ghosts of any Christmas Claims past; but if something does go wrong, know that our dedicated Claims Team is here to assist (even during the holidays). At Sentinel, we are dedicated to Safeguarding Your Success!