The winter months can bring a lot of fun and festivities, but also a lot of stress. Christmas shopping lists and Thanksgiving dinners can creep up faster than expected and take our full attention putting other important things on the back end. Here are a few tips to help disaster-proof your home and keep your family safe during the holidays.
1. Create a fire safety plan for all members of your home. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily. Households with young children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Mark the location of each smoke alarm. Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped.
2. Be knowledgeable and safe with cooking. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check on it regularly and remain in the kitchen and use a timer. Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels) away from your stove.
3. Make sure candles are lit in a safe place. Never leave a burning candle unattended, on or near anything that might catch fire, and keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
4. Get your chimney cleaned and inspected. Make sure you are burning dry seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This will help reduce buildup of creosote and lessen the potential for chimney fires to occur. Having screens in front of open fireplaces will help eliminate any spark hazard. Get a chimney sweep in to clean your chimney and service your fireplace to ensure all parts are working as they should be.
5. Have your heating furnace serviced. A poorly running furnace can be very dangerous as it can emit carbon monoxide, which is a deadly odorless and colorless gas, in to your home. Make sure to have a qualified contractor service your heater (if you are in need of this service and do not know who to call, contact us and we can direct you a reputable company).
6. Test smoke alarms and change the batteries. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. A loud siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, then it is time to replace the batteries. Check once every five to six months.
7. Clean out dryer vents. Dryer ducts that have lint build up create a fire hazard for you home. Usually, these can be cleaned out with a shopvac or you can have a contractor with the proper equipment come and blow out the vent to ensure any lint stuck or sitting in the ducting is removed (if you are in need of this service and do not know who to call, contact us and we can direct you a reputable company).
8. Make sure portable heaters have a thermostat and an automatic shutoff switch. Portable heaters should never be plugged in to a power bar with other electronics. Portable heaters are not recommended to be left turned on when you are not home and can easily short circuit. If you have multiple heaters running, do not plug them into the same outlet source. Heaters should be used in a receptacle on a separate circuit if possible.