The end of the year is always a good time to review fire safety items in your home. Does your fire extinguisher work? Do you need multiple units for kitchen and upstairs? Do you have smoke detectors on each floor of your house? Remember to test each unit, replacing old batteries if needed.

The holidays are peak season for home fires. We all get (too!) busy with preparations and stress. Adding to the mix can be an elderly parent with mobility challenges or memory loss.

Christmas trees: Try to buy a fresh, healthy tree. Situate the tree away from candles, the fireplace, and heating vents. Do all of your decorative lights work properly? Or are you finding frayed wires? Remember, your tree is drying out no matter how well you attempt to keep it watered — almost half of all Christmas tree fires occur in January.

Lighting: My wife likes to decorate every inch of our house. Which means, we have blinking lights and electric window candles all over the place. We try to make certain we are using the proper indoor/outdoor bulbs for display. We put much of our lights on timers, so they will automatically turn on/off at appropriate hours. And we are cautious to not overload electrical outlets, while keeping extension cords at a minimum.

Kitchen: Is something simmering on the stove? It is easy for the cook(s)to be distracted while entertaining guests, or handling other chores. Move flammable materials such as napkins, plastic wrap, potholders and wooden spoons away from burners. Don’t let an accident ruin your holidays.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: