Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tis the Season...For House Fires

As the weather gets colder--and right now it is freezing in most of the country--the number of house fires increase.  To keep your home and family safe this season, consider these safety tips:

  • ALWAYS having working smoke detectors in your home (there should be one on each floor and one in each bedroom.  Be sure to change the batteries regularly as well).
  • Make sure to keep combustibles far away from all heat sources (no flapping curtains near the wood stove or fireplace, locate space heaters where they won't be in close proximity to flammable items, etc).
  • If you do use space heaters, be sure to check the cord regularly to make sure it isn't overheating and make sure it is of the newer variety that will shut off if it is tipped over.
  • Keep your Christmas tree well watered and never use candles on it as decoration.
  • If you do use candles in your home (on the dinner table, as decoration, for religious rituals) never leave them unattended and be sure they are extinguished before leaving the room).
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure to have your fireplace/wood stove and chimney flue cleaned regularly, and always use both a fire screen in front of the hearth and a spark arrestor on the top of the chimney.
  • Have a home fire escape plan and drill it regularly.
  • Never cook inside on or heat your home with outdoor appliances (barbecue grills, outdoor firepits, camp stoves, etc).  Not only are these a fire hazard but they are a carbon monoxide poisoning hazard too.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home and know how to use it.
  • Check Christmas lights for signs of defect or overheating.  Also, make sure that outlets are not overloaded which can cause a fire.
  • Be extra careful when cooking.  It's the holidays, you have a bunch of people in your kitchen, you get distracted, and before you know it, your kitchen goes up in flames!  Always watch what you are cooking so it doesn't boil over/catch on fire.  Keep kids and pets away from not only the stove/oven but the fireplace/wood stove as well.  Don't wear loose, dangling clothing while cooking.
  • If you really need a deep fried turkey/turduckin/whatever, consider having it professionally cooked instead of doing it at home.
  • If you are lighting the annual family Christmas bonfire, NEVER use gas to start it!  For some reason people think that lighting the gas (liquid) will start a fire, but it is actually the vapors which explode (think internal combustion engine) if you get a match anywhere in the vicinity.
  • Even if your home is overflowing with guests, never allow them to sleep in a room (ie: storage room, closet) that only has one way to exit it.  Many people die in house fires for just this reason.
  • When you leave your home or go to bed for the night, do a quick safety check to make sure that: the stove is off, all candles are snuffed, the fire is out, the Christmas lights are turned off, etc.
We want this to be a safe holiday season for everyone.  By following these simple tips, you can make your home as safe as possible for you and your family.

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