The holiday season is a time for celebration and giving gifts to family and friends, but it is also a time when safety can sometimes take a back seat due to the rush and excitement of the season. People become careless and vulnerable to theft and holiday scams.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following information to keep you, your family and your home safe and secure during the holiday season:

  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit. When you leave your home, place your inside lights on timers to make it appear occupied.
  • Make sure you always lock the front door. Also, be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
  • When putting up decorations make sure you use a sturdy ladder or step stool. Do not stand on a chair or other furniture.
  • Outdoor holiday lights add to the season’s festivities. Use lights that are certified for outdoor use and in good condition.
  • Do not overload wall outlets and extension cords when using outdoor or indoor lights.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, cut two inches off the trunk and mount the tree on a sturdy stand. Keep the tree well-supplied with water and away from candles or a fireplace. If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is labeled as fire resistant.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle. Make sure candles are on stable surfaces.
  • If you plan on using the fireplace, make sure it is clean. The chimney and fireplace should be checked at least once a year.
  • Don’t place gifts under the Christmas tree where burglars can see them. Place a blanket over the presents, so they are not in full view of a window.
  • Poinsettias, holly berries and mistletoe spruce up your home during the holiday season, but remember these plants are toxic. Keep them away from children and pets.
  • After the holidays, do not advertise your gifts by leaving the boxes at the curb for garbage collection. Take the big boxes to the recycling center.
  • Many people are in a giving mood during the holidays and will donate money to charities. Do not become a victim of holiday charity scams. Do not give your personal information to strangers.
  • When shopping at malls, park in a well-lit area. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not leave packages visible in your car.
  • If you plan on traveling during the holidays, do not post your travel plans online. Stop your mail delivery, or have a friend or trusted neighbor pick up your mail daily and check on your house, as well.

Items that can keep your friends and family safe year-round make great gifts. Some holiday gift suggestions include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, escape ladders, first aid kits, earthquake kit, automobile safety kit, flashlights and portable radios.