Fire Safety

Fire Safety

Most Common Causes of House Fires

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) collects data from a variety of sources to provide information and analyses on the status and scope of the fire problem in the United States.  Based on their research, in 2017 there were over 1.3 million fires in the United States.  Of these 3,400 people died and 14,670 were injured with a total cost of $23 billion in loss.  The question is: how can we protect ourselves and our homes from fire?  

I have listed the most common causes of house fires and some tips to prevent it from happening to you.

Cooking

Pots and pans boiling over and faulty appliances such as a blender or toaster can cause a fire.  Never leave a hot stove unattended while cooking.  If you must leave the room, have someone come in a take over for you until you return. It is also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen (I keep mine under the sink).  Different sizes are available at your home improvement store.  Never throw water on a grease fire.  Always cover the flames with a lid.   

Electrical Equipment

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), home electrical fires cause about 51,000 fires annually. These can be caused by frayed wiring on appliances, overloaded and overtaxed power strips, and lack of maintenance on larger appliances such as the clothes dryer.  If you notice fraying on electrical cords, replace the item immediately before it has a chance to spark.  Do not overload power cords or fuses. It’s wise to contact an electrician to add more fuses to your electrical box so keep it from getting overloaded as well as add a whole house power surge protector.  Be sure to clean your dryer lent tray after every load and a couple times a year, clean out the dryer vent.  For tips on how to maintain your dryer click here.     

Smoking

Smoking is not only bad for your health it can be bad for your home.  Did you know that 73% of all house fire fatalities are caused by a cigarette?  If you must smoke, make sure the cigarette butts are completely out because they can stay lit for hours.  If you use an e-cig, make sure to monitor the battery when it is charging and do not put batteries in your pocket.  They can spark and explode when in contact with other metal objects, such as keys, coins, etc.  For more information on how to avoid vape battery explosions click here

Candles

For many burning candles is a no brainer in regards to accidental fires.  If you love the ambiance candles create, consider switching to battery operated LED candles or flameless candles.  For scents, try an electrical scent warmer or diffuser.  When only real candles will do, make sure to keep them away from anything flammable, and never leave them unattended.

Heating 

Winter will be here before you know it.  Portable heaters accounted for 1/3 of all house fires between 2007-2011.  To ensure your space heater will keep you toasty warm all season long, make sure to have it inspected and maintained annually, keep everything at least three feet away from it, always turn off the heater when leaving the room or going to bed.  

Smoke Detectors

Okay, smoke detectors don’t cause fires, but the lack of them can cause a fire to go on longer than necessary.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a smoke detector outside of every sleeping area and at least one on each floor.  Having one close to the kitchen (but not too close – cooking can cause false alarms) can deter large cooking fires.  When installing follow the manufactures directions, test the alarm once a month, and replace batteries at least once a year or when it starts beeping indicating low battery.  

Pets

Of course we can’t forget our four-legged friends.

For more tips on fire safety click on the links below:

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Safety-equipment/Smoke-alarms/Installing-and-maintaining-smoke-alarms

https://neckerman.com/6-most-common-fire-hazards-in-the-home/

https://turlockvet.com/fire-safety/

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Winter Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Winter Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Winter is one of the most beautiful and dangerous times of the year.  Frigid temperatures, snow and ice, and sickness are just a few of the hazards that come with cooler weather.  Listed below are a few tips for keeping you safe and healthy during this time of year.

According to Safe Winter Roads, approximately 116,000 Americans were injured and 1,300 were killed on icy snowy roads every winter. OSHA has some tips to keep you and family safer on the winter roads:

Brakes:  Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.

Cooling System:  Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.

Electrical System:  Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.

Engine:  Inspect all engine systems.

Exhaust System:  Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.

Tires:  Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear.  Check for proper tire inflation.

Oil:  Check that oil is at proper level.

Visibility Systems:  Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

It is also very important to keep an emergency kit in your call that includes:  

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency flares
  • Blankets
  • Bag of sand or cat litter
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Water/snacks

During this festive time of year, millions of people are putting up twinkling lights inside and outside of their home.  Before you string up the merriment, make sure to inspect all extension cords, lights, and electric decorations for any damage.  Always check the UL rating to make sure that the lights you are putting up are appropriate for indoor or indoor/outdoor use. If you are unsure, there will be a green UL hologram for indoor and a red UL hologram for indoor/outdoor.  Never ever place indoor lights or decorations outdoors because it puts you at risk for electric shock or fire.

Staying healthy during the winter season can be tricky.  Even though we all know what we need to do to keep from getting sick, it always bears repeating.  

  • Wear your coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.  Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can force your body temperature to drop too low known as hypothermia.  Hypothermia is a medical condition that requires immediate treatment for a full recovery. If left unchecked, it can kill you.
  • Wash your hands.  Wash your hands before you eat, keep your fingers out of your eyes and nose.  Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Lack of sleep can affect your immune system.  Studies have shown that those who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are more susceptible to catching viruses such as the common cold.  Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover.
  • Fruits are not just for the summer!  Vitamin C is a key vitamin to help you stay healthy or heal quickly if you do become sick.  Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are packed full of vitamin C. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can be challenging this time of year, but your immune system will thank you for it.

I know that this area of Texas does not deal with snow very often, but when it does happen these tips will help keep you in good shape. Clearing Snow from your roof or your sidewalk can be hazardous.  Shoveling snow sends over 11,000 people to the hospital each year. While most of the patients are not hurt by the act of shoveling itself, many of them are victims of heart attacks from the strenuous, sudden exercise.  Make sure you stretch before you start shoveling and take frequent breaks. Keep your hands at least a foot apart on the shovel handle and try to push the snow (like a snow plow) whenever possible to minimize strain. If you know you have health issues, it may be best to find someone else to shovel for you.  In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we do get the occasional ice storm.  The best advice is to stay home if at all possible during these times.  If you must get out, make sure to take it slow and leave plenty of room between the you and the vehicle ahead of you.  

These are just a few items to help keep you safe and healthy during the colder months.  What other tricks do you use during this time of year? I would love to hear in the comments below.

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Happy Holidays!