Home Safety and Security Tips
‘Tis the season for holiday and good cheer! Unfortunately, there are also hidden dangers lurking around. Here are some smart safety tips to protect your home and family.
Beautiful light displays are a sight to see, but they can also be a fire waiting to happen.
- Carefully examine your holiday light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked sockets or lamp holders, loose connections or tightly kinked cords. Before replacing bulbs, unplug the light string and be sure the voltage and wattage of the new bulb is the same as the original bulb.
- Always look for certification marks of an accredited certification organization (ex. CSA International, UL, ELT)when choosing products such as light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, gas appliances and carbon monoxide alarms. The certification mark ensures that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.
- Avoid overloading extension cords, such as connecting more than one extension cord together. Instead, use a single cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled.
- Remember to keep lit candles far from decorations and other flammable materials. Also, keep your children and pets away from light strings and decorations that use electricity.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree – a single touch can cause electrocution. For outdoor lights, keep electrical connectors off of the ground and away from metal rain gutters. To hold the strings in place, use insulated tape or plastic clips (not metal nails or tacks).
- If you’re using a ladder to put up lights, make sure you are using the correct one. Double check for a certification mark to ensure your portable ladder is safety compliant.
- A certified outdoor light timer is a smart way to save electricity and be sure you don’t leave your lights on overnight. You may want to set your timer to turn on lights after 7pm to avoid the electricity rush hour.
- And again, always turn off your lights when you leave the house unattended and before going to bed.
- For artificial trees, look for a “fire-resistant” label.
- Freshly cut trees are more resistant to ignition. When shopping, look for fresh green needles that don’t break easily when bent.
- Set up trees away from fireplaces, radiators, portable heaters and other heat sources. Unfortunately, this is a common cause of holiday tree fires.
- Keep the tree watered and make sure it doesn’t block any main exits.
- If you have any suspicion that your older ornaments were painted with lead paint, do not display them, especially if you have children.
- Nonflammable, fire retardant, and unbreakable ornaments are safe choices. Also, choose ornaments that are free of sharp edges.
- Be sure to hang ornaments with moving parts out of children’s reach.
- Don’t leave the kitchen when anything is cooking. Again, a common cause of home fires starts in the kitchen.
- Poinsettias are a festive way to decorate your home, but be sure to keep them out of your pet’s reach (or avoid them all together). While they are not poisonous to pets, according to vet experts, they are mildly toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting, and skin irritation.
- Always be sure that the fireplace flue is open BEFORE you light the fire. Keep evergreen boughs, paper, and decorations away from the fireplace and Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace.
- Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked, or broken. Only a qualified service person should replace any fireplace parts.
- If you are having guests over, be sure to test your smoke alarms. Monthly checks are recommended to make sure they work. And be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home (especially near sleeping areas).
- Speaking of maintenance, you should have a qualified heating contractor perform a maintenance check of your furnace and venting system yearly. And during the heating seasons, it’s important to clean and replace your furnace filter frequently.
- Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags, and cleaning products near your gas furnace. Gasoline or propane cylinders should be stored outside the home.
Criminal activity is heightened during the activities. Be sure to lock your doors and windows when you leave home.
- Make it appear as if someone is home – Leave a radio or television on.
- Keep indoor lights on a timer.
- Do not openly display gifts in front of windows.
- If you’ll be gone for longer periods of time, ask someone to pick up your mail or newspaper or temporarily halt services.
- Do not hide the spare key in obvious places – burglars know to look under doormats, rocks, flowerpots and above the door.
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