For many the holiday season is a time of peace and joy. For some families it has been a time of disaster. You may not know this, but statistically there is a greater risk of house fires during the end of year holidays. The National Fire Protection Agency reports that in one four-year study, an average of 200 home fires each year started with a Christmas tree, resulting in 6 fatalities and 16 injuries. This is largely due to electric lights and other decorations, the increased use of candles, fires in fireplaces, and other related factors. We’ve been discussing in-depth the need to do a home fire safety survey, and now we’ll pick up where we left off in Part 3 of this series.
Aside from the additional risks during the holidays of having open flames around, there is also an added risk to having more visitors. Friends and family from out of town that are staying in your home for a few days or weeks are not as aware as you about what your house is like. Included in Part 4 are some things to check.
- Stair Safety – One of the leading causes of home injuries are as a result of tripping and falling on stairs. And the last thing you want is for the stairs to be an obstacle to safely evacuating your home in case of a fire. The stairs in your house should have a reliable handrail, and the tread depth and riser height should be uniform. If they can be automatically illuminated at night, even better, but at least there should be an easily reachable light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Around the Home – If you have a connected garage then there should be a solid core door (fire rated is even better) separating it from your home. Gasoline should be stored only in approved safety containers in a shed or out-building not connected to the house. The same goes with gas powered equipment. Keep any workshops you may have, whether or not it is in a basement, free of clutter and debris especially of flammable items. And then outside the home, remove from your property any accumulated trash or debris including landscape trimmings and piles of leaves. Use your barbecue grill outside in a place that is a safe distance from flammable structures or materials. Electrical receptacles on the outside of your home should be GFCI type. And if you have outdoor decorations that are plugged into outlets inside your home, then those receptacles should also be GFCI outlets.
- Water Heater – Do not set the temperature setting higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of whether you have a gas fueled water heater or an electric water heater. Setting the temperature too high will increase the risk of burns, especially for guests that are not used to a higher setting.
And that wraps it up. But don’t just think about doing a Home Fire Safety Survey... DO IT! Do it with your family! Get them involved both in checking on these safety aspects around your home but also in making the needed adjustments, changes or fixes to get your home safe.
Do you have a question about your home’s central heating and cooling system and aren’t sure who to ask? Ask an Expert! Visit our webpage and fill out the form. The resident expert here at GAMA Air will reply quickly with an answer.