BOISE – It’s the holiday season, and while it’s a time of joyful celebration, a single mishap can result in a dangerous driving situation or a costly insurance claim. To keep the season merry and bright, AAA is offering tips to safely transport a Christmas tree and protect your home from a humbug moment.
“An insurance claim can really put a damper on your holiday cheer,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “Having a prevention mindset can make a big difference.”
Previous AAA research shows that 60% of those who plan to buy a live Christmas tree have previously had one fall off or out of their vehicle. And an improperly secured tree can cause more than $1,500 of damage to your vehicle or others, and could even result in a ticket for littering.
Bringing a tree home – the right way
- Use the right vehicle for the job – either a truck with a roof rack, a pickup, or minivan.
- Use strong rope or tiedowns instead of cheap twine.
- Ask the lot to wrap the tree in netting if possible. Cover your roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches.
- Place the tree with the trunk facing forward.
- Tie the tree down at the bottom, middle, and top. Give the tree several strong tugs from different angles to make sure it won’t come loose.
- Take back roads on the way home.
“Protect yourself and others by increasing your following distance to 8-10 seconds,” Conde said. “On a dark or icy road, you’ll need more time to react.”
Winter and holiday safety at home
- Remove trees and branches that are too close to buildings.
- Keep gutters clean to avoid the buildup of ice dams and so that water can easily flow away from your house.
- When you’re cooking, keep an eye on the kitchen at all times. Smother grease fires with a metal lid or baking soda, never water.
- Prevent a fire by keeping holiday décor away from heat sources. Indoor lights shouldn’t touch drapes, furniture, or carpeting. Keep candles away from flammable materials. Never place live trees near fireplaces or heaters. At bedtime, turn off lights and blow out candles.
- Double-check lights for frayed or cracked cords. Use clips instead of nails or tacks.
- Make sure live trees are properly hydrated, and if you use an artificial tree, select one that is marked “fire-resistant.”
“Of course, even after you’ve done your best to guard against the unexpected, there is always an element of risk, so it’s important to protect yourself and your assets from loss,” Conde said. “Ask your insurance agent to review your home and auto policies to ensure adequate coverage for your current circumstances. That will help you avoid a Grinchy feeling this holiday season.”