During the winter storms, we caution about the slick roads and dangerous conditions that can cause automobile accidents or a pedestrian accident as we scurry across parking lots and crosswalks on the way to a shopping mall. However, this time of year we also test the capacity of our electrical outlets and extension cords with our Christmas trees and lights strung inside and out. Test your smoke detectors (and your carbon monoxide detector, if you have one) by pushing the test button and holding for 10 seconds. If either the smoke detector or the carbon monoxide detector doesn’t work it is time to replace!
Fire hazards seem to multiply during the holiday season. Keep trash in covered containers and dispose of it regularly. Dispose of any smoking materials, including when outdoors or on balconies. This means making sure any material is completely extinguished and then placed in a non-flammable container for disposal.
Don’t overload circuits or use frayed electrical extension cords and never run an extension cord under a rug. Make sure all candles are extinguished when you leave the room. Better yet, don’t use real candles, those battery operated “flicker” candles look like the real thing. Think about escape routes in the event of a fire and make sure that each family member is familiar with the best route. Work out two escape routes from each room and pick one person to be responsible for counting heads at a designated place outside your home. Never go back into your house for personal belongings until it has been determined safe to do so.
When no one’s home, turn your thermostat down, but make sure it always stays above 62 degrees in cold weather. Keep all items, especially Christmas trees and gifts, away from the heater. Keeping the area around air vents clear will help prevent a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide. If your heating system is not working or appears to be malfunctioning call a professional out to service the heater, so there’s no need to attempt to clean or fix it yourself.
Winter means snowfall and ice forming on outdoor surfaces when temperatures drop, especially overnight. Watch your step, drive defensively and be careful carrying Christmas trees and gifts. Evening is particularly dangerous because you don’t always see the black ice that has formed over concrete or asphalt.
This time of year we like to huddle around the fireplace with hot chocolate and a warm blanket, but you shouldn’t allow yourself or items get too close to your fireplace. Never place a Christmas tree in front of your fireplace. Limit the amount of paper used to build a fire, and never burn charcoal indoors. Keep anything flammable away from your mantel and before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and could force carbon monoxide into your home. Make sure all ashes are completely extinguished before removal, and always use a non-flammable container for disposal.
William R. Rawlings & Associates hope you and yours have a happy, safe and warm Holiday season. Following the safety tips above will ensure a happy ending to your Holiday season.