With so much stress in our daily lives,
it can seem overwhelming to add tasks for checking your home safety. The danger
is that we may keep putting them off. But safety strategies don’t have to take
a lot of time. In the months ahead we’ll be reminding you of simple but
effective safety checks you can take to keep yourself and your family safe:
Be sure you’re using sanitizers and disinfectants correctly, to make them safe and effective. Learn how here.
In December, the darkest month, holiday lights
and candles have always been hugely popular. This year, we’re even more
inclined to light the darkness. As early as September, stores were already
reporting strong sales of holiday lights and decorations. It’s only expected to
increase, as we retreat into our homes during the coronavirus surge in the
Decorating our homes with light can
bring great comfort. Just make sure to do it safely:
flameless battery-operated candles, which are becoming very widely available,
give a realistic glow, and can last longer than flaming candles.
you use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything
that might burn—that includes furniture, bedding, curtains and decorations. Put
them out before everyone leaves the room.
unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
overloading outlets. Flickering lights, tripped circuit breakers, and blown
fuses are warning signs. Don’t ignore them – unplug!
Find more simple steps to holiday candle
and light safety here.
In summer we all tend to kick
back and relax the rules a bit. It’s a great time of year, but to keep it safe
there are still a few rules worth keeping:
Always watch children when they’re in or near water. Pool Safely, a campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce childhood drownings, recommends designating an adult Water Watcher to supervise children in the water, even where there’s also a lifeguard. Watching should be their only task – they shouldn’t be reading, texting or playing games on their phone.
Looking for a game to keep young children occupied? Help Mikey Make It Out is a fun, interactive game that teaches life-saving home escape lessons. They can also read the storybook Mikey Makes a Mess online, in English or Spanish.
Leave fireworks to the pros, even where they’re legal. Here’s why.
While your fireplace isn’t getting used, call to schedule an annual chimney cleaning.
As cooking moves outside, enforce a “3-Foot Rule” just as you do for the stove. Keep children and pets at least three feet from the fire.
Summer is peak season for wildfires. Check the predicted risk for the area where you live (or plan to visit) here, and always stay tuned to local weather and news.
Find more tips about safe use of campfires, outdoor grills and firepits at flickitsafely.com.
Summer fun activities can get chaotic. To prevent falls, make sure you wipe up spills promptly, and remind everyone to pick up clutter, which can be a tripping hazard–especially toys. Get more fall prevention tips.
Wear a bike helmet, and make sure you and your children know the rules of the road.
The cold weather and darkness this month have us turning on lights, heating and appliances. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, that may be why January is the leading month for electrical fires. Today’s electrical demands can overburden the electrical system in a home, especially homes more than 40 years old that have older wiring, electrical systems, and devices.
Protect yourself and your family by making sure all electrical work in your home is done by a qualified electrician and following these tips from USFA:
Always plug major appliances–such as refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers–directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord with a major appliance.
Unplug small appliances when you’re not using them.
Keep lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs away from anything that can burn.
Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
Check electrical cords on appliances often. Replace cracked, damaged and loose electrical cords.
Don’t overload wall outlets.
Never force a three-prong cord into a two-slot outlet.
Install tamper-resistant electrical outlets if you have young children.
Use power strips that have internal overload protection.
As you’re counting down to the New Year, keep safety in mind. A warm bottle of Champagne (or any sparkling wine) poses a greater risk than a chilled one. According to the New York Times, Champagne bottles “contain more air pressure than that found in a car tire and can launch a cork at 50 miles per hour.” The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop strongly because the bubbles expand as the temperature rises, so chill that bubbly to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening it.
While Champagne cork injuries are not common, they can be serious and even cause permanent blindness. Perhaps the most famous victim was Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. On his wedding night a champagne cork hit his left eye, which eventually became blind. He began experimenting to make windshield wipers that worked the same way as the blinking of his eye, moving at intervals instead of a constant back-and-forth motion.
So when opening that bottle, point it at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and everyone else. Hold the cork down while you twist off the wire hood from the bottle. Put a cloth over the entire top of the bottle, then hold the cork and twist the bottle to ease it away the cork. And be sure you keep pointing it away from yourself. Most of the people who are hit directly in the eye by a cork while opening champagne were looking down into it to check their progress. Just keep turning and keep that towel on.
Most families consider their pets part of their family, and we love sharing holidays with family. But many holiday traditions can be harmful to our four-legged family members. The American Kennel Club provides these tips:
Avoid decorating with food, like popcorn or cranberry strands, because they can cause upset stomachs if eaten by your pets.
Be aware of the pet hazards of Christmas trees. Don’t let your pet drink the water in a natural tree stand, which can cause stomach irritation or contain poisonous plant food. Also place sparkly ornaments that can catch your dog’s eye higher up on your tree where they can’t be reached, because eating one can cause major problems. You may want to consider putting a gate around the tree if you have a persistent pet.
Some of the holiday foods that humans love can make our pets ill. Keep them away from chocolate, butter, turkey skin, fat and candy.
The Animal Poison Control Hotline reminds us that: “While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated…medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe.” Still, you’ll want to avoid the “mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea” that can occur when it’s ingested, so keep these and other holiday plants out of reach of pets.
Thanksgiving is a peak day for gathering with family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also the peak day for home cooking fires. Maybe that’s not surprising, considering that the major cause of home fires is cooking—a big part of Thanksgiving activities. In fact, Thanksgiving has three times the average number of home fires involving cooking equipment as all other days of the year.
The U.S. Fire Administration offers these tips for a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – frying, broiling or boiling – at high temperatures.
Make your cooking area safe. Move things that can burn away from the stove. Turn pot handles toward the back so they can’t be bumped.
Watch what you’re cooking. Use a timer when roasting a turkey or baking.
Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
Stay awake and alert while you’re cooking. If you see smoke or the grease starts to boil in your pan, turn the burner off.
Prevent burns. Wear short sleeves when you cook, or roll them up. Don’t lean over the burner. Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot cookware.
Keep young children at least 3 feet away from the stove, oven or any place where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
USFA also wants you to know about turkey fryers:
Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
An overfilled cooking pot will spill cooking oil when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will splatter cooking oil when put in the pot.
Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
Swimming can be one of the great joys of a child’s summer. But its important to be vigilant around water, and not just at the beach. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children 14 and under. And for children ages 1 to 4 its the leading cause. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools (Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention).
Keep young swimmers safe with a few simple rules:
Lifeguards aren’t babysitters. Keep an eye on your kids, and never leave a child alone near water, whether on the beach or at a pool.
Enroll children older than age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But keep in mind that lessons don’t make your child “drown-proof.”
Always follow posted safety precautions when visiting water parks.
Many people don’t think of sparklers as a hazard, and readily hand them to children. In the states that permit their sale, sparklers and some other fireworks of comparable strength such as party poppers have been labeled “safe and sane” by their advocates. But the National Fire Protection Association flatly states: “safe and sane” fireworks are neither.
Sparklers throw off showers of hot sparks, and their temperatures can exceed 1200º F. Sparklers caused 24% of hospital emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries—the largest of any single type of fireworks.
“Children are getting burned with sparklers. Around the 4th of July is the busiest time for hospitals for children and burns, whether they are burns to the hands or whether they are stepping on the sparklers when they are still hot on the ground,” said Brian McQueen, Director of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) in a news report from WKTV following the recent legislation legalizing the use of sparklers and other Class C fireworks in New York.