With Thanksgiving right around the corner, people will begin turning their attention Christmas decorating and holiday parties shortly thereafter. The holidays not only bring new safety hazards into the house, but the excitement of them distracts even the most wary. Below are a few hints to help keep you safe for the season.
- Trees – Live trees require lots of watering and even then they will dry out. Place them well away from any heat sources. Don’t burn discarded trees in the fireplace as it can lead to creosote build-up in the chimney. Instead consider taking it to a recycling center or compost it for the garden.
- Fireplaces – Of course by this time of the year you have had your chimney swept and inspected. Don’t be tempted to reduce the landfill by burning wrapping paper or other paper products in it. Besides the flash fire they produce being dangerous, they could have coatings that produce unsafe fumes when burned. Check for opportunities to recycle paper and plastic products to ease your guilt.
- Smoke Alarms – Check all smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning. Replace batteries at least twice a year even if they are still working. Install a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
- Candles – Keep candles away from all combustibles and extinguish when leaving the room. Place them so they are away from areas where they can be knocked over. The coffee table is just the right height for Fido’s tail to do damage. Don’t forget to stow away the matches or lighters that could be temptations for inquisitive children.
- Lights – Check all strands for any damage and for the UL approved label. Turn them off when going to bed or leaving the house. Don’t run any wires under carpets and don’t overload the circuits.
- Decorations – Check decorations for small pieces that could be a choking hazard for children or pets.
- Guests – Don’t assume that your guests know what you know. Remind them not to place their gloves on the space heater for drying or throw anything in the fire in the fireplace. Ask them to help keep the kids safely out of the kitchen while food is being prepared. If you have overnight guests, review your household escape plan with them in case of emergency.
One of the best ways to keep your eyes on the little ones on Halloween may be to keep them home. Of course that may involve throwing them their own party which can still involve safety issues for you and your guests. Here are a few tips to keep everyone safe on Halloween night:
- Costumes – Even if you are not hiking the neighborhood, you still want to keep the costumes safe. Shorter is better so that there is no tripping. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup to enable children to see their best. Check the labels for fire retardant clothing.
- Food – Be aware any food allergies that your guests may have. Common allergies include dairy, shell fish and peanuts. Stay away from small hard candies that may present a choking hazard. If using dry ice, prevent children from handling it as it can cause burns.
- Childproof – Move any breakable items beyond reach or to another room. Don’t let a broken keepsake spoil your night. Candles may add to the atmosphere of spookiness, but don’t be tempted to use them. There are plenty of flickering lights available that are battery operated and eliminate the hazards of a flame.
- Pets – A houseful of exuberant party goers in strange costumes could freak out your pets. Also, your guests may share too many things with your pets that shouldn’t be eaten by animals. Arrange for your pets to stay in another part of the house or away from home.
- Guests – Know your guests. With the excitement and hubbub of escorting costumed guests in and out of your house, unescorted trick-or-treaters could accidently crash your party. That would be a scare for both you and the unknowing ghosts and goblins.
- Plan – Plan ahead to include lots of fun activities to keep your guests busy. The good memories that they have will last a lifetime.
The days grow shorter and the nights become colder, and before you know it the holidays are upon us. Even small household accidents become tragedies when they involve your family or guests. Entertaining overnight guests may create a little extra stress for the household. Take time to prepare your home for the holidays, so everyone can be nestled all snug in their beds.
1. Prepare the Family – With all the excitement of pending visitors, every household member needs to know what to expect. Try to keep the everyday routine as normal as possible. Remind everyone of the changes that may have to be made to keep the guests comfortable and safe. This may mean giving up a bed or room to grandparents or putting toys with small parts away where toddlers can’t reach them. If guests will be coming and going while you are not home, you may need to inform the neighbors so that there will be no problems with mistaken identity.
2. Prepare the Guests – Once your visitors have arrived, review your family emergency escape plan with them. Show them where the fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are kept. Keep essential phone numbers nearby or program their cell phones. If it’s necessary to use a space heater, instruct them on its safe operation. If they will be on their own in the kitchen, review the workings of appliances like the stove, toaster, and coffee pot.
3. Prepare the House – Keep the outside walkways clear of snow and ice and also well lit. Remove any hazards that could cause tripping like throw rugs or runners. Locate nightlights to help nighttime navigation. Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and install grab bars if necessary. To protect youngsters, lock up anything toxic, like cleaning supplies and medicines. If you are not used to having children around, you may need to seek help in childproofing the house. Inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working.
4. Prepare the Decorations – Consider using flameless candles. If you must light up, keep candles high enough that pets and children can’t reach them but away from draperies and curtains. Place extension cords away from foot traffic, but do not place them under carpeting or area rugs. Be aware of the placement of glass ornaments so they are away from both pets’ and toddler’s reach. Refrain from using tinsel around pets and children as it can be toxic. Be aware that some holiday plants like poinsettias can be poisonous. Check with your guests about allergy information. Your beautiful live Christmas tree could cause them constant sneezing and wheezing.
Keeping these tips in mind, we wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!
With Halloween just days away, it is necessary to think about your family’s safety on this special night. Below are some Halloween safety tips that you probably already know, but please read through them as a reminder to stay safe this Halloween. Remember scary is only good if it’s fun!
- Accompanied by an Adult – Children should always be chaperoned, preferably by their parents. There is safety in numbers, so travel in groups if possible, and know where you are heading before you start out on Halloween night.
- Unrestricted Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes are short enough that they won’t trip when walking. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup instead, to help them see where they are going. If they are carrying any props like swords or brooms, make sure they are flexible to prevent injury if they should fall.
- Light It Up – Bring along flashlights with fresh batteries to help brighten your path. Use reflective tape or glow lights on costumes to help little ones to be seen. Try to stay on well-lighted streets and go only to the houses that have a porch light on at the front door.
- Don’t Eat the Candy – Wait until you get back home and have time to go through all the loot your children receive. Inspect wrappers for tampering of course, but also check for choking hazards like small hard candies or toys and items your children are allergic to.
- Identify Your Auto – If you are staying with the car while sending your trick-or-treaters up to the porches, remember cars can look alike in the dark. Decorate your dash board or radio antenna with something that lights up so the little ones can easily identify their ride. Be sure they are aware to enter the car on the curbside instead of the street side. Don’t forget seatbelts, even if it is a short ride.
- Obey the Law – Remind little ones the proper way to cross the street, using crosswalks and signal lights when possible. Stay on sidewalks and do not cut through alleys. Some communities post a curfew for trick-or-treating, so start early and get home in a timely manner.
If you enjoy the occasional fire in your wood-burning fireplace or you heat rooms in your home with a woodstove, there are a few crucial safety tips you should follow before you build your first fire this winter. Fireplaces and chimneys are involved in over 40% of home-heating fires, so take precautions before you strike up a fire to ensure your home and family are safe.
- Clean the chimney – Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney before winter to remove soot and debris that have built up in the chimney.
- Assess the chimney for damage and problems – Carefully inspect your chimney for loose bricks, missing mortar and cracks. Check the chimney liner for cracking and deterioration. Have a professional make any necessary repairs.
- Inspect the chimney cap – Your chimney should be covered with a cap fitted with wire-mesh sides. The cap keeps debris, rain, squirrels, birds and other critters from entering the chimney. If your cap is missing, replace it. If it is damaged, repair or replace it.
- Select the right wood – When burning a fire in your fireplace, it is best to burn dense and seasoned hardwoods such as oak that has been split and stored in a dry place. Burning green and soft woods such as pine produces more creosote which builds up in the chimney. (Creosote is a flammable by-product of combustion.)
- Stick with small fires – Build and burn small fires. They produce less smoke and therefore less creosote buildup in the chimney. Also keep in mind, fires that are too big or too hot can crack your chimney. This damage can be expensive to repair.
- Use kindling – When you’re trying to get your fire started, use kindling. It is very dangerous to use flammable liquids to start your fire.
- Protect against embers – It is not uncommon for embers to shoot out of the fireplace. Prevent this from happening by using a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. If you have a woodstove close and secure the door.
Following these tips every winter will help prevent a fireplace accident from happening and keep your family and home safe.