The holiday season is most commonly thought of as a positive time to spend with family and friends. Toward the end of the year when the weather is cold, there is nothing better than eating and catching up with loved ones in a comfortable setting. When the topic of Thanksgiving comes up, it is very rare to associate such a happy occasion with home damage. However, many homeowners don’t know that this is the time of year they are most at risk for such problems.
In anticipation of upcoming travel plans, many people are unaware of how much damage is likely during this holiday in particular. Whether you are going away or hosting family in your own home, it is important to be aware of everything that could possibly go wrong during this expectedly joyous event to prepare for the worst as much as you possibly can. While you may have half of the week off for Thanksgiving break, home damage doesn’t take a holiday. The best way to be prepared is to plan ahead!
Traveling For Thanksgiving
When traveling to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving, you are leaving your property unattended for several hours to days, depending on how far you will be from home. Whether you are driving around the corner or getting on a flight across the country, any time that you are not at home will leave openings for home damage and disaster.
There are a few types of damages that are very common among Thanksgiving travelers that can affect their homes while they are away. Some of the dangers to look out for are listed and explained below.
Flooding is a very common occurrence among vacant households during Thanksgiving. The cause of a flood can come from a variety of sources, from the interior to the exterior of the home.
If appliances such as the dishwasher or washing machine are left on before leaving the house, the water can begin to overflow and build up, causing a flood throughout the property. Similarly, garden hoses on the exterior can leak without being stopped, also contributing to flooding.
Another issue that is frequently experienced by Thanksgiving travelers is fire. This typically occurs when open flames, such as lit candles, are left unattended, as well as plugged in heating appliances like clothing dryers, hair dryers, or space heaters.
If these hazards are not controlled before stepping out of the house, there is a lot that can go wrong, sparking up flames while you are away.
Last but not least, many Thanksgiving travelers come home every year after their vacation to find their homes broken into. Being that many houses are vacant during this time, burglars often take advantage of the opportunity to get their hands on any valuables left behind. Home damage caused as a result of a crime can fall under vandalism and may be covered underneath your home policy.
How To Avoid Disaster While Traveling For Thanksgiving
When going on vacation for Thanksgiving, the last thing you want to worry about is what’s happening within the walls of your home. From disasters to robberies, all homeowners should educate themselves on what they can do to avoid disaster while traveling for the holidays.
Turn Off All Lights/Appliances Before Leaving
Being that electrical appliances and other sources of heat are some of the main causes of fires in a vacant home, it is wise to turn everything off before you leave. This includes the washing and drying machines, dishwasher, lamps, stoves, and anything else that could potentially become a hazard while you are away.
Shut Off Water
Similar to the risk for fires, you should be mindful of the sources of water that you have around your home. Make sure that all sinks and machines are turned off, and that the water supply to any garden hoses you have outside is shut down. This will prevent anything from leaking or busting, causing a flood throughout your property.
Lock All Windows and Doors
In order to prevent your home from being burglarized as much as possible, you must keep all openings closed and locked. This includes windows, doors, and any other entryways. Homeowners who neglect to take these steps suffer the consequences when their houses become easy targets for criminals.
Tips For Staying Extra Safe During Holiday Travels
Along with shutting and locking everything down before you leave the house for your Thanksgiving travels, there are a few things that you can do to ensure the protection of your property. Below are some tips that will help you keep your home extra safe while you are gone.
Stay Off Social Media
The holiday season is often a very exciting time. Whether you have loved ones far away or you want to share your plans with people you know, you might be tempted to post photographs and statuses on social media.
While there is nothing wrong with using these media outlets, there is a correct time and place to do so, especially when it comes to traveling. If you let everyone know that you will be out of town, your home could be targeted for a burglary since you gave someone the heads up.
Before you post anything online, keep in mind that once it’s out there, anyone can see it and you can’t take it back. That being said, it is recommended to postpone all holiday social media sharing until after you have already returned from your trip.
Secure Important Assets/Documents In a Safe
When you go away for the holidays, there is no telling what could go on inside your home. While you might do the best you can to avoid disaster, accidents can always happen.
In the event that you experience flooding or fires within your home, you will want to have all of your treasured assets and important documents stored away in a secured location. For that reason, it helps to have a water and fireproof safe that you can depend on to guard your belongings for you, no matter what happens while you are gone.
Install an Alarm System
Along with closing and locking all of the doors behind you, an alarm system will help to keep burglars away. On top of just scaring someone who is trying to forcefully enter with loud sirens, most modern alarm systems will allow you to watch what is happening remotely from your phone.
Depending on the type of system that you have installed, you might be able to periodically check on the inside of your home through security cameras.
Hosting For Thanksgiving
While certain disasters are expected when you are traveling away from your home during the holidays, many would be surprised to learn that similar damage can still be experienced while on the premises. In reality, homeowners have a lot more to worry about this holiday season than meets the eye when it comes to home damages.
One of the most common disasters that can happen on Thanksgiving Day is a house fire. This can happen when something gets caught on the stovetop or the turkey stays in the oven for too long, among many other causes. One of the biggest causes of fire during Thanksgiving season can come from the improper preparation of turkeys that someone is deep frying. It’s important to note that if a turkey isn’t properly and fully defrosted before being deep fried, it will be at risk for an explosion and fire. After all, oil and water (or ice), do not mix well.
Thanksgiving also happens to be one of the busiest days of the year for the local fire departments all across the country, which should give you an idea of how common this particular type of home damage can really be during the holiday season.
One thing that most Thanksgiving hosts do not prepare for is injuries of guests while on the premises. This can be anything from someone falling into the living room wall all the way to food poisoning.
Although surprising, hosts can actually be liable for spoiled or undercooked food being served to guests, should they decide to file a claim against their insurance.
Damage To Neighboring Property
When family and friends get together and drinks are involved, situations can escalate very quickly. Just like your uncle could hold you financially accountable for undercooked turkey on his plate at dinner, your neighbor can file against your insurance if you or any of your guests cause damage to their property.
If your guests are not under control, there is a higher probability of disaster and another expense on your end.
How To Avoid Disaster While Hosting Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving should be as happy of time as it is made out to be. While it is true that many things can go wrong at home during this holiday, it should not stop you from hosting your loved ones and having a good time. Below are some suggestions that will help you protect yourself against disaster while having people over this Thanksgiving.
Keep Watch Of Oven Burners and Use Timers
To prevent house fires starting from the kitchen, you should always be attentive to what is going on around you. This means that all oven burners should be clear of debris and obstructive objects that could catch fire.
In addition, anything that goes in the oven should always have a timer. When it comes to cooking and catching up with friends and relatives simultaneously, it can be easy to forget about what is in there until the smoke alarm begins to go off.
To avoid these problems before they start, a ringing reminder will allow you to enjoy yourself without forgetting your responsibilities as the host.
Ensure Food Is Cooked and Prepared Properly
The last thing that you want to happen while hosting a holiday dinner is a lawsuit or expense as a result of poisoning one of your guests. To get ahead of this potential issue, you should ensure that all food is cooked and prepared properly. This means that all ingredients must be fresh, and you cannot cross-contaminate anything in the kitchen.
Control Liquor and Guests
When hosting Thanksgiving, the last thing you want to deal with is your neighbor filing an insurance claim against you because of an altercation in your home or condo. To stop this problem before it has the opportunity to start, control the liquor and keep your guests in a confined area, preferably inside the walls of your home, in order to avoid liabilities.
How To Protect Yourself Before The Holidays
While it is true that you can do your due diligence in preparing for Thanksgiving disasters, there is no way to be sure that your home and property will be safe and sound after the festivities have come to an end. As a homeowner, you should always have a backup plan for when things go wrong, in order to protect the life that you have built.
Review Your Home Insurance Policy
When it comes to home damage, insurance is a homeowner’s best friend. After doing everything you can to prevent disaster, your insurer will be there to write you a settlement check for any repairs needed around the house.
However, before you can file an insurance claim for your damages, you will need to understand the limitations of your policy. The average homeowners’ insurance policy will cover a decent range of uncontrollable events, but some things will be left out.
Prior to a disaster setting in, it is recommended that you go over your policy’s individual coverages with your insurance agent, ensuring that you understand exactly what will be recognized in the event that a claim is filed.
Make Necessary Changes To Your Policy
When you go over your insurance policy with an agent and review the coverages, there is a chance that what you are given is not enough to make you feel safe. In this case, you will need to make changes to your policy and purchase any necessary add-ons until you are satisfied with your insurance.
Consult With a Public Adjuster
Finally, it is recommended that you find and build a relationship with a good public adjuster in your area. As professionals in the field of home insurance claims, your adjuster will represent you to the insurance company, similar to an attorney, and negotiate your settlement for you until you receive everything you deserve.
Homeowners have the opportunity to go through the claims process on their own, but frequently make mistakes due to inexperience that can be detrimental to their cases. With a public adjuster by your side along the way, you will be able to rest assured that your home damage claim is being handled properly, and you can expect a much larger settlement than you would have gotten on your own.