Graphic: Shep McAllister
5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ask-a-clean-person/id996183661?i=1000382315226&mt=2).” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

I’ll level with you: I hate the holidays. But I really, really promise I’m not writing this to ruin anyone’s holiday cheer — I decided to do a little turn on 5 Neat Things and offer up suggestions of five safety items that you should have in your home during the holiday season (and year-round, actually) in the event that something goes wrong.


A Sturdy Ladder

Photo: Amazon

Falls are a major source of injuries during the holidays, mostly due to climbing on rickety ladders or on furniture to hang decorations, so if you can avoid using furniture as ladders, you should. A sturdy ladder with a wide platform so you can stand comfortably and safely is what you want. This 6' stepladder from Little Giant should be tall enough for any indoor decorating you want to do, and it has fantastic reviews.

Holiday Lights

Photo: Shep McAllister

Holiday lights — in addition to cooking, dry trees and unattended candles — are a major source of holiday fires, and so before you get up on that sturdy ladder and start stringing away, you’ll want to check the set for cracked sockets, loose connections, and frayed, loose or bare wires. If your set looks dodgy, get a new one. When purchasing a new set of lights, whether for indoor or outside use, look for a set that’s been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL, and of course, consider energy-saving LEDs.

A Combo Smoke-Carbon Monoxide Detector

Graphic: Shep McAllister

I know you know you should have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in the home. I also know many of you have disabled your smoke detectors, or haven’t been as diligent at replacing the batteries as you should be, or haven’t gotten around to picking up a carbon monoxide detector. That’s so normal, and it doesn’t make you a bad person but also take this opportunity to right the ship, okay? Okay!

Fire Extinguisher

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Maybe you’re like, “Shows what you know, lady, I’ve got a smoke detector AND a carbon monoxide detector AND there are fresh batteries in both!” Well, do you have a fire extinguisher? If not, here’s a good one for you to pick up: It’s lightweight (2 ½ lbs) and at $20 it won’t break the bank. Stash it in the kitchen, where the majority of holiday fires start.

A Basic First Aid Kit

Photo: Amazon

File this one under A Good Thing To Keep In The Kitchen. This Coleman first aid kit contains bandages, first aid tape, antiseptic towelettes and ointment, gauze pads, and a cold pack — and has room for you to add your own items to it so you can customize it to best suit your needs. It’s also portable, so it can double as a first aid kit for camping or hiking, if those are your things.