Holiday Home Safety: A MyPhillyLawyer Guide to Keeping Your Family Safe This Holiday Season
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on December 12th, 2011
The holidays are here and your friends and family will gather for joyous times together as you make new memories and relive fun times from past years.
It’s a great time to be together, but it’s also a good time to remember some basic safety rules to be sure that the holidays are happy and disaster free.
That means simple precautions when enjoying fires in fireplaces, displaying and enjoying holiday trees and decorations inside your home and being sure that your home heating system is in good repair now that cold weather is here with the approach of winter.
It only takes a bit of preparation to make your home safer for the holidays.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer have gathered up some of the best safety tips from several reliable sources to help you along the way.
The Home Safety Council offers sensible tips to care for your home heating appliances, from furnaces to fireplaces to electric space heaters so you can prevent fires, burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn and always closely supervise children and pets when the heater is turned on.
- When using a fireplace or wood stove, only burn seasoned hardwood like oak, ash or maple to prevent chimney fires.
- Use a sturdy wire screen in front of the fireplace to prevent burning embers and sparks from escaping into your home and igniting a fire on rugs or floors.
- If small children live in or visit your home, consider using a safety gate around your fireplace or wood stove to prevent a serious burn, the group recommends.
- Be sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on each floor of your home, especially near bedrooms, to protect residents and guests in the event of a heating system malfunction. All oil and gas furnaces, kerosene heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces produce the invisible, odorless gas, which can cause death in high concentrations in an enclosed area. The CO detectors will go off in the event CO levels get dangerously high so you can vent the home and escape safely.
- Home heating systems should be inspected and adjusted before the home heating season to be sure that equipment is working efficiently and safely.
- Be sure that smoke detectors are operational and have fresh batteries installed.
- If you cook with a charcoal grill during the winter months, be sure to only operate it outdoors and not in a home, basement or garage. The grills produce CO and are deadly when operated in an enclosed area.
- Never use an oven or range to heat your home.
- Never use a gas or charcoal grill inside your home or in a closed garage.
- Portable electric generators must be used outside only. Never use them indoors, in a garage or in any confined area that can allow CO to collect. Follow usage directions closely.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also offers winter safety tips, including an Extreme Cold Prevention Guide on how to stay warm and safe when temperatures outside fall to below freezing. The tips are especially critical during winter storms when power can be lost and heat can fail.
The CDC lists tips on what to do to prepare your home and family before a dangerous winter storm hits, including:
- Having a Winter Weather Checklist that includes things like a battery operated weather radio, a week’s worth of food and baby supplies in case you are stranded and without power, adequate bottled water supplies and firewood if you have a fireplace or wood stove.
In the event of downed power lines outside due to a winter storm, do not ever touch or go near the wires. Call your utility company and let them handle the wires.
We hope that the holidays are a time of joy and happy gatherings for you and your family and that you experience all the good things that the holidays bring.
To do that, be safe, use good judgment and be sure that your home safety systems are all in place to protect you, your friends and your loved ones.
From all of us here at MyPhillyLawyer, we wish you a safe and Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.