The holidays are upon us and so is the season for accidents. Being a former firefighter and investigator, I saw many different types of hazards, some that were deadly, related to the holidays. Here are some tips to stay safe:
Have your furnace checked for leaks. With the winter weather, more people are staying inside. The furnace can be deadly if it is not properly vented. Carbon monoxide gas can make you sick with vomiting, nausea, and dizziness, and in high concentrations, will render you unconcious and kill you. Check your other gas-fueled appliances and don’t keep your car running in the garage. If you don’t have a CO (carbon monoxide) detector, you can sometimes get free ones at your local fire station, but definitely at your local hardware store. Install them within 15 feet of every bedroom at a minimum.
Clean your chimney Flue. So many fires have started in wood-burning fireplaces from a build up of soot. Find a professional to clean before using them, especially if it hasn’t been done in years!
Live tree fire hazards. It’s a beautiful thing to have a live tree over the holidays, that aroma, bringing nature indoors, but there are hazards to watch out for. Make sure your tree has water. Dry pine needles and lights don’t mix well. Clean up needles that are on the floor and plug the tree into the wall directly, without an extension cord. Extension cords are notorious for starting fires. Make sure your light strings are UL certified. (see below video, courtesy of the NFPA and CPSC)
Hanging lights outside. If you are going to hang lights on tall trees or your house, make sure you are working on a stable ladder, and it’s best if there is someone holding it at the bottom while you hang the lights. If you must climb onto your roof, securing yourself with a rope and wearing shoes that have traction is a must. And for safetys sake, don’t climb up there when there is ice or snow. That is a no-brainer! Falls are a big problem at this time of the year.
Smoke detectors. This is perhaps the simplest thing you can do to keep your family safe. Make sure you have detectors in your house! Newer homes have them hard-wired with battery back-ups, but older homes have the old school battery-operated only. Make sure you have fresh batteries in them. It’s tempting to pull out the batteries when they start to beep, but that beeping is telling you the battery needs changing.
These simple safety precautions can save your life…don’t ignore them!
The below video illustrates how fast a tree can go up in flames. Note the timer, which counts in seconds at the bottom right. Courtesy of NFPA and the CPSC..