As the holidays approach, it’s always good to reflect on various safety tips and practices to ensure you and loved ones stay as safe as possible. That being said, life can get hectic this time of year, and it’s not always easy to stay on top of it all, which is why we’ve provided a list of things to keep in mind as you approach these upcoming weeks.
Be Cautious in the Kitchen
Even when gatherings are small, it’s all too common for people to congregate in the kitchen, which means being vigilant about the items on countertops and stove top is a must.
When using your stove, be sure any pot handles are turned outward, so that no kids, pets, or hurrying adults snag them by accident and send boiling liquids toppling. Along with this, keep hot pots and pans, as well as knives and other dangerous appliances, towards the back of the counter to avoid any disasters.
And while you’re at it, avoid extension cords that could trip people up or, worse yet, overload your outlets and cause a fire.
We know cooking can start early sometimes, but do your best to change out of any flowy pajamas or robes before getting things started. These looser clothing items are much more prone to catch on fire, especially when there are a lot of distractions going on.
Don’t Let Outdoor Cooking Turn Disastrous
Frying a turkey? Consider investing in a self-contained unit. They’re easy to find and well worth investing in when it comes to safety!
If you can’t splurge on one this year, be sure you’re frying your bird far away from any structure and in an open area. Also, make sure the turkey is completely defrosted and well-dried, and lower the turkey in slowly and from a distance (don’t just drop it in with your hands). Ignoring these precautions could easily lead to a flash fire.
Grilling anything? Stay well away from the home! Sometimes snowy, rainy, or cold weather can encourage people to take their grill to their deck, porch, or underneath their overhang, but this has been known to cause many a fire.
Burn Only Seasoned Wood in the Fireplace
Eager to get a fire burning in the fireplace? Make sure you have a stockpile of well-seasoned wood, and don’t throw any trash or debris into your fires this holiday season. Things like cardboard, wrapping paper, and the like are known for burning hot, which means tossing them in your fireplace makes you more prone to have a flash fire in your chimney.
You’ll always have flammable residue in your flue, whether this is built-up creosote or just a layer of dust, and when these substances are exposed to intense heat, that’s when flames really spread. You could even experience an explosion.
Not sure what to watch for when distinguishing between seasoned and unseasoned wood? Just make sure the pieces you use are lightweight, dark and split at the ends, and make a hollow clunking noise when smacked together. They should also smell and look older and mustier. These are all signs your fuel is ready for use!
Properly Dispose of Fireplace Ash
When you’re looking to dispose of fireplace ash, don’t just simply toss it into the nearest box or trash can you have access to. Those sparks and embers hidden in your ash pile can stay active for days, and if enough oxygen gets to them, a fire could easily start up where you least want it.
Ashes should always be put in a metal bucket with a lid and handle. Empty them into the bucket with a metal scoop, then tightly fasten the lid and put the bucket on a nonflammable surface that is well away from your home. Once they have sat for a few days, you can dispose of them.
When it comes time to decorate, make sure any decor is at least three feet away from your fireplace to avoid any accidental fires. Most Christmas decor ignites very easily, and once one thing catches fire, it can easily spread elsewhere. We know decorating around the fireplace seems festive and fun, but it’s always best to practice caution.
Christmas trees should also be approached with great care. If you have a live tree in your home, be sure you cut off a bit of the bottom before mounting it so it can soak in plenty of water throughout the upcoming weeks (and add water at least once every day). Also, keep it away from any heat sources, so it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard.
You’ll also want to avoid decorating your tree with candles or damaged strands of the lights. If you spot any cracked bulbs or frayed wires, toss the strand out and spend a few bucks on a new one – it’s well worth it when it comes to the well-being of your household!
If you have a fake tree, the same rules apply! (Minus the watering.)
Remember – if a tree ignites, it takes only minutes for the living space to go from 70 degrees to over 1000 degrees, and in that span of time, you can bet the flames will spread fast. Don’t take any chances, and be sure you’re decorating with care and caution this season!
Check Your Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors
Did you know smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are responsible for saving hundreds of lives every year in the U.S.? And now you can buy them as one unit, making it easier than ever to stay as safe as possible. There should always be at least one per floor (but the more the better), and they should be located right outside the sleeping areas of the home.
Looking to stay safer than ever? Have your fireplace inspected by our CSIA-certified crew. Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County is just a quick phone call away!