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How to Avoid Holiday Horrors

Here's how to save your house from devolving into a disaster during the holidays

Save Yourselves

Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Big gatherings are a sign of the season, but with so many people in your home at once, a minor mishap can turn into chaos. Here's how to save your house from devolving into a disaster.

Smoking Turkey

Photo by Courtesy of Getty Images/Dirk Anshutz

Bye-bye birdie: Smoke starts pouring out of the oven while you're cooking.

Prevent it: Clean the oven thoroughly at least a day before the meal. When broiling, keep food at least 2 to 3 inches from the flame and place a sheet pan underneath to catch drippings that could smoke.

Sparking Holiday Lights

Photo by Courtesy of

Multiple light strings crammed into a single outlet can lead to a fast-igniting blaze.

Prevent it: Keep an outlet's total amperage or volts under 15 amps, or if using a power strip, within the manufacturer's rating. If you notice sparking, pull plugs out of the outlet immediately.

Fiery Candles

Photo by Courtesy of Getty Images/Images by Elaine

Those tapers look great glowing on your table—until someone knocks them onto the linen tablecloth.

Prevent it: Never sit a candle directly on flammable material. Before lighting, trim the wick to ¼ inch; blow it out when there are 2 inches of wax left (½ inch if the candle's in a vessel).

Leaky Toilet

Photo by Courtesy of Getty Images/Michael Blann

Lots of guests means a busy bath. A clog can make your toilet overflow, causing water damage to the ceiling below.

Prevent it: Routinely flush a natural enzyme down the drain to keep it clear. Avert an overflow by closing the water valve and using a plunger at the first sign of a slow drain.