“Safety first,” goes the old adage, but how many of us have accidentally left the stove on, or left a window open, or forgotten to lock the door on the way out?

Let’s face it: We humans are a distracted lot. This is no more evident than around the holidays – with the parties for hosting and the marshmallows for toasting and … well, you know the rest. In this most wonderful time of the year, it’s easy to forget one very important step: Keeping your home safe.

Amcrest Outdoor Video Quality

Amcrest Outdoor Video Quality

To that end, we’ve compiled a few key holiday safety tips to ensure a safer holiday season, whether you’re staying home this year or traveling elsewhere. Because as much as we know the holidays can be stressful, we also know that dealing with an accident, burglary, or some other calamity in the middle of it all can be downright devastating.

If you’re traveling, be careful who you tell.

We’re surely not the first to tell you not to post your travel plans on social media. But seriously, don’t! We strongly advise against publicizing details about your holiday travel, especially where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone – with the exception of that friend or neighbor you trust and who has agreed to look after your place while you’re gone.

Which brings us to our next tip.

Entrust a friend or neighbor to look after your place while you’re gone.

A trusted friend can really prove useful when you’re out of town. When a big snowstorm hit one year while we were back east visiting family, we asked the teenage son of our trusted next-door neighbor to shovel our walkway and driveway for us (with pay, of course). Not only does this clear space for us when we return, it also sends a message to a potential intruder that someone is home. We call that a win-win.

Once you’ve established that relationship, it’s up to you whether you want to give them a house key, or the code for your smart lock or alarm keypad.

Did You Know: Electronic or “smart” door locks let us skip the hassle of finding that house key we keep losing. Does this sound like you? Check out our smart locks buying guide for more benefits to this setup.

If you don’t have a security system, consider getting one.

Security systems have been giving us an ongoing gift as long as we’ve been homeowners: Peace of mind. It’s why we recommend that homeowners invest in a good home security system. To get started, we always steer folks toward our best home security systems list, as you really can’t go wrong with those options.

Protection aside, the convenience of modern systems, with cameras and sensors and remote monitoring and two-way audio and the like, allow us to enjoy our time away without worrying we’ll miss something. A full-service system like SimpliSafe might really suit you; check out our hands-on SimpliSafe review to find out more.

SimpliSafe Equipment

SimpliSafe Equipment

Likewise, we truly appreciate having the option of using our system’s two-way audio to spook anyone who doesn’t belong there … and we can’t forget the visual deterrence, too. Did you know that about 60% of burglars1 in a study indicated that the presence of some alarm or security equipment would cause them to abort their plan and seek another target?

And now, the homebound revelers:

Don’t Get Too Ambitious in the Kitchen

Between 2012 and 2016,2 cooking was the leading cause of reported home fires, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths. And not surprisingly, the risk heightened considerably around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Never keep food unattended while you’re cooking. This goes for any cooking, but especially for a big, traditional meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning a turkey dinner, keep in mind that deep-frying turkey is riskier than roasting. So if you’ve never gone the deep-fry route before, you might want to check out FEMA’s safety guidelines on turkey fryers.3

Going further, here are some quick tips to make sure all your merrymaking isn’t thwarted by potential thieves:

Other Holiday Safety Tips:
  • Automate your smart lighting and set timers
  • Keep a car parked in the driveway so it looks like someone’s home
  • Bring potted plants inside
  • Pick up any mail or newspapers around your mailbox
  • Make sure all decorations you’re planning to hang outside are approved for outdoor use (extension cords, too!)

As homeowners, we don’t embark on any vacation without taking these essential steps to protect our property. The holidays are chaotic enough without a break-in, a fire, or something worse. Stay protected, and enjoy the season.