The holiday season is a busy time, and that busy-ness can make us unaware of dangers that lurk in plain sight. Here's a partial list of things to be mindful of in the season of lights and cold weather. We've seen these conditions turn bad, and we want you to enjoy all this particular time of year offers.
While electrical fires are less common today than they were before circuit breakers and GFI plugs, let's be reminded that electricity does generate heat. Thus:
Don't leave candles unattended. Melting wax is an accelerant, and every year over the holidays the local news has a story or two of a burned out home from forgotten candles left lit.
Turn off Christmas tree lights whenever you leave the house.
Don't pile too many lines into a single socket; overuse of a socket can generate too much heat.
Fireplaces warm the room, and our hearts, but a friendly fire and a hostile fire are two very different things. Our old house has seven working fireplaces, so these tips come from real experience:
Never vacuum ashes from a fireplace unless they are fully cold to the touch. If you've ever sucked up a single small spark into a vacuum you've seen how oxygen being blown through a bag of dust can turn that spark hot and hostile in seconds (and the smoke it emits smells really bad – this one from an early lifetime, memorable, fireplace experience).
When cleaning ashes, don't collect when warm to the touch, NEVER in a paper bag,and never leave them the house or garage. Store in a metal container and place it outside (ashes spread over packed down snow improve footing, by the way).
If the fireplace does not have a safety door or fireplace screen to prevent sparks from escaping, stay close. Nothing like a burning log rolling out onto the floor turning friendly to hostile.
We cook and bake a lot over the holidays. Checklist items from the kitchen include:
Is the oven off when you leave the house?
Are children around? Turn pot handles in and move knives safely out of reach.
Are the kitchen smoke detectors operating properly? If battery operated, go ahead and change those batteries now.
Finally, is your best friend during an emergency fire nearby and quickly located? We're talking about fire extinguishers here. Now is a good time to check the expiration date or pressure charge indicator. A First Alert fire extinguisher is about $20 on Amazon or your local hardware store.
Now go and enjoy the best of the season, be with friends and family, and be thankful for all we have.
To discuss any of the above with respect to your own insurance program, please don't hesitate to call the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Use the form at the left of this blog.