Fire Safety Means Safe & Happy Holidays
It’s getting cold out there, which we love, because it means it’s holiday season! There will be fires in the fireplace and the woodstove. There will be stockings hung from the mantle, and wrapping paper and candles and lights and a tree in the corner. The oven and stove will be going, filling the house with wonderful smells, from turkey and yams to pies and cookies to peppermint cocoa. Families will gather and laugh and tell stories and exchange gifts and eat lots of wonderful food together.
But the holiday season is also a time when fire safety is paramount. Every year, thousands of homes are destroyed by fire during the holiday season. Keep your family safe, so that everyone can enjoy the spirit of the season.
As CSIA-certified Chimney Sweeps, a great deal of what we do is focused on fire safety. Here are some tips for keeping your home and family safe this holiday season:
1. Teach Your Kids about Fire Safety
Children under age ten are responsible for 38 percent of injuries and 93 percent of deaths in residential building fires caused by playing with a heat source. Children younger than five are typically curious about fire and cause 52 percent of all child fire deaths. Children may play with fire in their bedrooms or in a closet and those younger than five may not be able to escape a fire without help.
Teach your kids not only that fire is a tool rather than a plaything, and how dangerous it is, but make sure they know what to do if there is a fire in your home. Teach them to stop, drop, and roll. Teach them about the dangers of smoke inhalation. Make sure they understand your family’s evacuation plan.
You may be extremely responsible about fire safety, but if you haven’t taught your kids to be just as responsible, it may not matter.
2. Smoke Alarms
Make sure every floor in your house, as well as the garage and basement, has working smoke alarms. No matter how careful we are, fire prevention can never be 100%. Be prepared in the case of a fire, so that you and your family can evacuate in a timely manner. We know smoke alarms can be annoying when they can be easily set off by cooking, but don’t dismantle them or take out the batteries. If you find that your smoke alarms are not working properly, have them inspected by a professional. Chances are slim you will ever need them, but if you do and they are not working, it could have disastrous consequences.
3. Be Extremely Careful With Flammable Materials
There is often a fire in the fireplace and candles around the house during the holidays, so make sure that there is not any flammable material whatsoever near them. Always make sure the fireplace grate is closed, so that sparks, embers, and other burning materials stay in the fireplace. Keep flammables, such as newspaper, firewood, and other materials, far away from the fire. Remember that stockings are usually made of highly flammable material, and if you hang them from the mantle, make sure that there is no chance that a flame or spark could reach them.
If you have candles around your house, make sure they are far away from paper, wreaths, streamers, and such, and always blow them out when you are not in the same room with them. Never go to sleep with candles burning.
Your choice of tree and how you care for it is extremely important. Trees catching fire is a major cause of house fires during the winter. Make sure your tree’s needles are fresh and green, and that the tree has a supply of water to keep it from drying out too fast. Do not allow the tree to remain in your house after the needles have begun to drop and the tree is drying.
4. Lights & Electricity
Inspect your lights, particularly those on the tree, for any frayed wires, cracked or broken sockets, gaps in insulation, and dispose of any broken ones immediately.
Never overload your electrical outlets. Follow the directions for how many strings of lights can be safely connected, but when in doubt, connect no more than three. Check the lights periodically, making sure they are not warm to the touch. Turn them off when you go to bed.
Holidays mean lots and lots of cooking. Be extra attentive to what is in the oven, and the pot on the stove. Holiday meals are where we are often cooking many dishes at once, and it can be easy to forget something. Get help! Make sure more than one person knows about the stock you left on to simmer for several hours, just in case you forget.
6. Have a Plan
No matter how careful and responsible you are, accidents still happen. Be prepared. Make a plan for every member of the house (including pets!), and make sure everyone knows the plan (your pets don’t have to know the plan). If you have more than one child, make sure they have a buddy system, so that no one gets left behind. Draw up a map of all the evacuation routes, and revisit them periodically. It is very easy to panic in such a situation, and the more practiced you are, the more likely you are to remember what to do.
7. Get Your Chimney Cleaned!
If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned yet this year, don’t wait any longer! The creosote that builds up in the chimney not only smells bad, it can be flammable. Most people don’t expect fires in their chimney, but they happen all the time! By the time you realize what is happening, it could be too late!
Call us today to make an appointment for us to inspect/clean your chimney.
Have a happy and safe Holiday Season!
Portland Chimney Repair – Service Area
Located right here in Oregon, our Portland chimney sweep technicians provide the best in chimney repair, fireplace installation and dryer vent care in the Greater Portland-Metro area. From NE Portland down to SE Portland, Tualatin and Oregon City in the south, from Pleasant Valley in the east to Beaverton and Sherwood in the west – when it comes to your chimney, fireplace and vents, we hope you’ll call American Chimney & Masonry! We are the most trusted Portland Chimney Repair company!
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To schedule an appointment with one of our expert chimney repair technicians, please call 503-644-0393. With over 19,000 satisfied customers since 1989, we are ready for more! We look forward to visiting with you soon about your fireplace and chimney sweep needs.