My sister and I were out walking one afternoon and passed by a professional home cleanup and restoration service van. The all too familiar van and professional-grade fans inside brought back memories of the flooding we experienced in our home last December. Our hearts went out to the family dealing with the aftermath of water damage.
Just a few days before that, we heard a fire engine, followed by a second fire vehicle and an aid car, headed up the hill to neighbors in distress. Our hearts and prayers went out to them, as well.
Disasters don’t just happen to people who live in Tornado Valley or on the Gulf Coast or Eastern seaboard; disasters happen everywhere. They happen whether we receive several days warning or none at all. This time of year, experts warn the most common disasters stem from heat sources, winter storms, candles, and holiday decorations.
To help keep your home and family safe from fire this year, follow these tips:
Heat Sources: December, January, and February are peak months for heating-related fires. Take care to keep flammable material away from heating equipment and never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of the leading factors contributing to home heating fires was the failure to clean chimneys or other heating equipment. Make sure to regularly check and clean your flues, chimney, and heaters.
Candles: December is the peak time of year for candle-related fires. An average of 7,900 home candle fires is reported each year. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything flammable.
Carbon Monoxide: An odorless, colorless gas created when fuels don’t burn completely, carbon monoxide (CO) incidents are more common during the winter months. Install a CO detector and make sure to change its batteries twice a year.
Generators: While useful during power outages, many homeowners don’t realize improperly using portable generators can be very unsafe. The most common dangers are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, fire, and electrocution. Never use a generator or portable grill inside your home.
Electrical: Electrical home fires stemming from electrical distribution, lighting equipment, washer or dryer fans, and space heaters are a leading cause of home fires in the United States. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year and test them annually to make sure they are working properly.
Holiday Decorations: A heat source too close to a Christmas tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires. Make sure your Christmas tree and other holiday decorations are at least three feet away from any heat source.
This year was challenging but these challenges have taught us a lot. It taught us how to be still; the importance of family, friends, and neighbors; and the importance of supply chain continuity. Let’s keep these lessons close to our hearts. Enjoy this season of peace with your family. Send your neighbor a card. Pick up an extra package of toilet paper at the store and stay safe. From my family to yours, have a joyous and safe holiday season.
Photo by Julie Clegg.