Money Fix: Preventing holiday hazards

The holidays can be full of merriment, but

The holidays can be full of merriment, but also mishaps that cost money. Be aware of hidden holiday hazards, like a too-dry tree that can go up in flames. This blaze was a demonstration by Suffolk County fire officials to show the danger. Photo Credit: James Carbone, 2010

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The holidays can be full of merriment, but also mishaps that cost money. Be aware of hidden holiday hazards.

Avoid party perils. "Hosting events at home increases the potential for accidents that can lead to personal liability lawsuits," says Jerry Hourihan, executive vice president of AIG Private Client Group in New York.

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You can be liable if your party guests get looped and kill or injure themselves or others on their way home. You could also be liable for underage drinking in your home. Check your homeowner's coverage for exclusions, conditions or limitations. You can limit trouble by offering your couch for the night or cabs for those who had one too many. Serve plenty of food, and limit alcohol.

Watch those flames. More than 40 percent of all home fires occur in the kitchen with food or cooking materials. Keep the crowd in the kitchen to a minimum, suggests Ken Katz, property director for Travelers Risk Control in Hartford.

Stay ahead of the weather. Consider weather conditions and the impact on traffic inside and outside your home. Take precautions to address wet, slippery walkways or foyers.

Ditch dangerous decorations. Mistletoe and holly berries can be harmful if swallowed. Old tinsel may contain lead. Decorations help create a festive mood, but they should be handled with care. More than 12,000 people go to the emergency room for cuts, falls and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees.

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