Whether your plans have you home for the holidays, or this is the year for travel, there are a variety of things you should be doing to keep your house safe into the new year.

Some of these suggestions focus on how to keep your house safe while traveling, the two biggest of these are more frequently associated with what you need to do if you are staying home.

The first, of course, deals with your Christmas tree.

More than 45 percent of all holiday tree fires are caused by electrical issues or lighting equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

So, here is what to do to be as safe as possible.

If you haven’t bought your tree yet, make sure it is fresh and needles do not fall off when touched. When you insert the tree into the stand, make sure to cut off about two inches from the bottom of the trunk. This helps to make sure that the tree gets water. And remember, you should water the tree every day.

Make sure the tree is located at least three feet away from heat sources or any open flames. That includes fireplaces, heating vents and radiators. Never decorate the tree with lit candles. Make sure the tree does not block your exits or create a tripping hazard.

And as soon as the tree starts to dry and drops needles, it’s time to remove it. In Alachua County, Christmas trees can be placed at the curb on your yard trash day. Trees more than five feet long must be cut in half, and all ornaments and tinsel must be removed.

Next, we need to consider holiday lights. Again, like your Christmas tree, your lights may already be up. Whether they are yet or not, here are some things to consider.

Make sure the lights are certified by Underwriters Laboratories by looking for the UL symbol on them or the packaging for them.

Examine your lights for broken or loose bulbs and frayed or exposed wires. If you see any of these, do not use those lights.

If you’re not home or are going to bed, you should turn your lights off – even if they are on a timer.

Make sure not to overload power strips or extension cords. Your power strips should be equipped with circuit breakers or surge protectors. And for your outdoor lighting, you should only use outdoor extension cords.

Keep your extension cords away from dry grass or water, and only use low-heat LED lights on trees and shrubs.

If your holiday plans include a vacation, here are some safety ideas.

  • Unplug your appliances before you leave.
  • Adjust the thermostat to reflect that no one is home.
  • Put some lights on timers so it appears there is someone home.
  • Consider motion activated floodlights.

And here’s the biggest suggestion of all from Informed Inspection. Whether you are home or traveling, make sure you have a great holiday season!