With the cool weather coming, we will be doing more things to keep snug and cozy in our homes. Whether you will be doing that by a fire or simply keep warm via your furnace, it's time to make sure not only are things working properly, but that you family knows how to stay safe as well.
Fireplace Safety - If you do have a fireplace, before you start that first fire of the season, call a chimney sweep to inspect your fireplace and chimney so that it is safe to use. Also, inspect your fireplace cover so that it will keep in sparks when you are burning a fire and make sure you burn only safe items in your fireplace. Some items can be toxic and just because you CAN burn something, doesn't mean you SHOULD burn it. Also, it's a good time to remind the little ones to steer clear of the area when they are playing so they don't forget and play around a roaring fire and get hurt. **Don't keep flammable items around the fireplace at all so even when you aren't using it, you will be in the habit of keeping it as a safe zone.
Alarm Check - This is the time of year to go around and check all your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure all the batteries are up to date and everything is working properly. When you are sleeping, you may think you would smell smoke first and wake up, however, smoke inhalation can cause a lot of damage quickly and by the time you realize what you are smelling, it may be too late. Don't risk it. **Check all batteries seasonally, replace batteries yearly and after 10 years, time for new alarms altogether.
Small Appliances, Big Problem - Routinely check your small appliances for fraying wires or loose chords. If you see a problem, pitch it. Also, avoid hand me down small appliances. They aren't meant to last forever and if you don't know the history of an item, it could have sat somewhere for a long time and have been exposed to dampness or something else. Newer appliances come out with more and more safety features, too, so it's better to be safe, than sorry. **Check the backs of big appliances too like your fridge and dryer. Keep them dust free and clean so that they won't over heat and cause a fire either.
Doors and the Way Out - Half of all fatal home fires start between 11pm and 7am--when a lot of us are sleeping and may not notice things as quickly as we would during awake hours. Shutting bedroom doors keeps smoke and flames from spreading as quickly so you have time to find a way to get out. **Have an escape route planned and practiced with your family so you are ready for an emergency.
Stay Out - Once you have left the home because of a fire, STAY OUT. Do not go back in for anything. Things can deteriorate at a much faster rate than you might think and what could have been safe passage on the way out, might be a tunnel of terror on the way back in. **Have a place for everyone to meet outside so that you will know when someone is missing and can tell the firefighters what to look for as soon as possible.
Now that you are safe, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with your family in your cozy home. You will relax and enjoy it much more, knowing you have done your part to be safe.