The holiday season is almost here, and with it comes friends, family, good food and fun. As you finish up last minute shopping and party planning, there are several things to keep in mind so that you and your guests stay safe during this busy time.

Here are nine basic safety tips to prevent accidents and injuries and deal with potential lawsuits from such holiday-busting disasters:

1. Make sure your driveway and paths are shoveled and de-iced.

If somebody slips and falls on your property, you could be sued for damages. While some states have a “natural accumulation” rule that says that the accumulation of ice and snow is not an unreasonably dangerous condition, most states have a law that requires property owners to remove or treat snow and ice like any other dangerous condition, so be sure to plow, shovel, sand or salt.

2. Turn down your water heater to prevent scalding.

Many manufacturers set water heaters at 140ºF, but such a high temperature can pose a serious safety issue – scalding. According to, most households only require water heaters to be set to 120ºF, so turn down your thermostat to prevent injuries.

3. Put Fido in a kennel to prevent bites.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention. If you are planning to host a party, make sure Fido is out of the way because you could be held liable for any injuries he causes.

4. Make sure to cook your turkey to 165ºF.

According to the USDA, this is the minimum safe internal temperature needed to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. Make sure your oven is set no lower than 325ºF, thaw your turkey completely, cook it breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan, and make sure it’s done by checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

5. Prevent holiday drinking and driving.

If a guest leaves your house drunk and gets into a car accident, you could be held responsible for third party injuries as the host. It’s a smart idea to stop serving alcohol towards the end of the night, encourage your guests to have a designated driver and call a cab for anyone who’s too drunk to drive home. 

6. Decorate safely.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends checking all sets of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires and loose connections. No more than three sets of lights should be plugged into a single extension cord, and be sure to turn off all lights on trees or other decorations before you go to bed to prevent fires. The CPSC also recommends making sure your Christmas tree stays fresh, as dry trees are fire hazards. 

7. Prevent cooking fires.

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries, according to the American Red Cross. Never leave cooking food unattended, and if you must leave the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food, always turn off the stove. You should also avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking and keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop or other hot appliances.

8. Be wary of holiday theft.

With increased purchasing during the holiday season comes an increased risk of theft. If you have packages delivered to your doorstep, try to be home at the time of delivery, or have them delivered somewhere they can be received in person, such as a neighbor’s house or your office. And if you’re going to be leaving gifts in your car, make sure to keep them out of sight to discourage thieves from breaking in.

9. Make sure your insurance policies are up to date.

Give your insurance agent a call to make sure you’re properly covered this holiday season. It’s also smart to consider an umbrella policy if you’re planning to host parties or if you have many assets to protect. An umbrella policy will cover any claims that go above and beyond what is covered under your normal homeowners policy, keeping your protected in case accidents happen.

Get free insurance quotes by calling 855-244-7671. See how much we can improve your coverage and help you you save this holiday season.