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.
Winter is almost here. Now is the time to make yourself aware of winter hazards and the precautions you can take around your home and neighborhood to stay safe this winter. With winter usually come snow and ice hazards. Be very careful during snowy and icy weather. Below are some tips to help you avoid injury due to wintry conditions:
- Stay indoors if possible when snow and ice accumulates.
- If a snow or ice storm strikes during the overnight hours, try to alter your morning schedule. Don’t hurry of to work or school before plowing has been completed.
- Walk slowly and use railings when available during icy weather. If there is no railing, try walking in the snow instead of directly over icy patches on sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and streets.
- If you must go out in the ice and snow where boots with good traction to help you walk safely.
- Be alert for “black ice” on driveways, porches, sidewalks and streets. This is a thin layer of invisible ice that can form on concrete and other flat surfaces. You may think the sidewalk or driveway is clear and then step on black ice and slip. Check for black ice on walking surfaces and pavement if you see or know there was precipitation while experiencing freezing temperatures.
The fall and winter holiday season is quickly approaching. It is a time when homes are filled with neatly decorated trees, twinkling lights, tasty meals and treats, festive decorations and family members and friends. All of us expect this combination to yield happy memories and good times for all, but it also poses a huge risk. For instance, the US Fire Administration reports structure fires increase during the winter holidays and the dollar loss per fire is 34% greater than normal. There are numerous safety tips and informational articles available to help keep your family and home safe throughout the fall and winter holidays. Take some time to review this helpful information, so your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are enjoyable and memorable for all.
The kitchen is the heart of most homes and the hub of all types of activities from preparing meals to doing homework and enjoying conversation with family and friends. It is also the room where two-thirds of home fires start. Review this list of kitchen safety tips to identify and correct potential hazards in your home before it is too late.
- Locate all appliances away from the sink or any other water source.
- Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces, like the range or coffee maker, and away from wet surfaces.
- Only plug counter top appliances into GFCI-protected outlets.
- Do not use appliances that have been wet.
- Unplug all counter top appliances when not in use.
- Do not leave counter top appliances on when unattended.
- Clean the stove and oven regularly. Also be sure to clean the exhaust hood over the stove.
- Keep the cooking area surrounding the stove and oven free of combustibles like hand towels, pot holders, paper towels and recipe books.
- Do not leave something cooking on the stove top or in the oven when unattended.
- Give the refrigerator room to breathe. Make sure there is enough room behind the refrigerator to let the air circulate.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils every two or three months to eliminate dirt and dust build up that reduces efficiency and can become a potential hazard.
With these tips, you’ll be on your way to practicing fire safety in your kitchen.
For more information on how to be safe at home, check out our Home Safety Blogs.
If you are building a new house, you may have heard your builder, contractor or electrician mention a GFCI. Do you know what a GFCI is and why it is necessary it install them in your home?
A GFCI is a ground fault circuit interrupter. It is a device designed to protect people from electric shock and electrocution. This simple device constantly monitors the electricity flowing through an electrical circuit and will quickly switch off power to that circuit if any loss of current occurs.
GFCI receptacles are required by electrical code and standard in areas of the home where water may come into contact with products and appliances that require electricity to operate such as the toaster, hair dryer and power tools. The areas of the home where the use of GFCIs is standard include bathrooms, the kitchen, garage and basement.
If you are not sure if GFCIs are being used in the construction of your new home, find out immediately by checking with your builder, contractor or electrician. Make sure your home doesn’t become a fire hazard.
For more safety tips and advice about home safety, check out our Home Safety Blogs.