With the excitement of everyone being home for Christmas and New Year’s, there is also an increase in risk for house fires. Half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.

Holiday decorations, candles, blocked vents, poor electrical connections, dirty air filters, the list of potential hazards goes on. So, as you decorate your home this year, be sure to review our Fire Safety Checklist.

HVAC’s and related equipment are leading causes in structure fires, due to lack of proper maintenance. As temperatures drop and use of heating systems rise, any debris, dirt or dust build up in your ducts could possibly spark a flame.

This can be easily prevented with a seasonal tune-up to your home unit. Scheduled tune-ups are the most proactive way to stop costly and hazardous problems from forming in your system, because out of sight, out of mind right?

You can also check your home for other electrical and heating dangers this holiday season by doing the following:

• Installing tamper-proof receptacles on outlets.

• Keeping cords out of reach from children or animals.

• Keeping your Christmas tree well watered to prevent a fire.

• Throwing away old decorations that have broken bulbs or cords.

• Keeping at least a 3-foot distance between your Christmas tree and heat sources.

• Inspecting switches, plug, electrical cords and outlets for exposed or burned wires.

• Moving cords or wires from high traffic areas like in the living room or kitchen.

• Removing electronics from overloaded outlets and adding an extension cord.

• Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.

In the case of a fire, be sure your family has an emergency exit plan. Review several escape routes and practice using them with the entire family highlighting all windows and doors.

Practice makes perfect, and what better time than the holiday season to get the family back together to practice fire safety.

Dave Miller, owner of Superior Services, has been servicing HVAC systems for more than 20 years in the Bluffton and Hilton Head island area. gotosuperior.com