Home for the Holidays 2020

by Suzanne Carroll

This year, more Bay Area residents than ever before will be staying home for the holidays. With COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise throughout the region, local officials are urging people to put off large family gatherings and celebrations. While festivities may be smaller this year, it’s still important to take steps to ensure the safety of your household.

1. Furnace maintenance

The days are short and chilly in the Bay Area this time of year, and overnight frost is a common occurrence. To keep your furnace in good working order, you’ll want to have it regularly inspected by a qualified HVAC professional. It’s also essential to regularly change the furnace’s air filters; failing to do so will negatively affect your home’s air quality and may even lead to a fire.

2. Address fire hazards

Christmas trees, holiday decorations, space heaters and wood stoves help bring the spirit of the holidays into your home, but together, they represent a fire hazard. Make sure your Christmas tree is well-watered; have your chimney cleaned and inspected if you haven’t used it in a while; keep all holiday decorations and furniture at least three feet from the fire; and with more cooking and baking happening in the kitchen, always make sure your oven and stove have been completely turned off after use.

3. Check home safety devices

With the increased use of decorative lights, space heaters and fireplaces, it’s important to verify that your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operational. Test the batteries to ensure they’re still good. Each bedroom in your home must have a smoke detector, and each floor of your home should have a carbon monoxide monitor. If your home’s fire extinguisher is more than six years old, it’s time to replace it. The manufacture date will be printed on the extinguisher itself.

4. Watch what goes in the sink

Even for smaller celebrations, you might find yourself cooking up a holiday feast, which means more plates, cookware and food waste could wind up in the sink. Certain items like turkey bones, potato peels and coffee grinds shouldn’t go into the garbage disposal. Utensils can slip into the disposal as well. In this video, Chris Marcus of Miracle Plumbing Inc. explains how to use an Allen wrench or the reset button when your garbage disposal is jammed.

5. Be prepared for spills

’Tis the season for hot chocolate, eggnog, mulled wine and carpet stains. With more holiday festivities taking place at home this year, food and drink spills are almost inevitable. For most stains, a combination of dish soap and water will work. For coffee, wine or chocolate stains, try a solution of ammonia and water. Rodrigo Bejar of Heavenly Touch shows his technique for cleaning carpet stains in this video.

6. Keep your pets safe

When considering your family’s safety during the holidays, don’t forget about your pets. Avoid decorating with tinsel, as it often proves too tempting for both cats and dogs. While not toxic if ingested, tinsel can cause your pet intestinal distress if they eat enough of it. Dog owners should make sure turkey and chicken bones, grapes and raisins, chocolates, and any food containing xylitol are kept out of reach. Poultry bones easily splinter and the other foods are toxic to dogs.


Our holiday celebrations are going to be smaller and closer to home in 2020. Creating a safe environment for your whole family (four-legged friends included) will enable you to make positive memories for the season, which will carry you into a brighter new year.