Home safety is a year-round concern. Eliminating hazards around your home should be a major priority no matter what season it is. Hazards fall into three main categories: fire, electrical and chemical. Here are some tips that will help you identify dangerous conditions and reduce your chances of a preventable disaster.
- Remove old items that you’re no longer using from your home. Papers, mattresses and broken furniture are combustible and stacks of these items in your basement or attic can act as an accelerator in the event of a fire.
- Keep flammable materials, including curtains and rags, at least 15 feet away from electric heaters and combustible appliances.
- Keep piles of yard debris well away from your home. Better yet, remove them from your property altogether.
- Keep your chimney in good condition with a yearly cleaning that includes any necessary repairs.
- Make sure portable heaters are on a solid, level surface. Only buy portable heaters with an automatic shutoff switch and never use extension cords to power your heaters.
- Keep your furnace operating safely with annual maintenance performed by an HVAC professional.
- Make sure your extension cords and the cords connected to your appliances are in good shape. Replace any that are frayed or have loose prongs.
- Don’t overload your outlets.
- Immediately replace any appliances that short out, smoke or spark.
- Cover all outlets and exposed wiring with the appropriate materials.
- Store flammable liquids such as paint thinners and gasoline in a well-ventilated area away from your home. Make sure their containers are tightly closed. If you must store these items in your home, keep them away from combustible appliances and make sure they’re out of reach of children.
- Place oily rags in a well-ventilated area where they can dry out entirely before you put them in covered metal cans and store them away from heat sources.
- Never use gasoline, benzene or other flammable liquids to clean or start fires in your fireplace.
Once you’ve narrowed your options down, a heating system expert can help you work out the details and settle on the exact model for your needs. Ask them about sizing your heating system, installation procedures, maintenance plans, rebates and lifetime costs. Then take all the factors into account and make the best decision for your budget and priorities.