We had the opportunity to jam with local fire fighters at the South Jordan Fire Department, they offered up ways to be safe this winter and to avoid home fires during the holidays and in cold weather. Protect your family and home with these preventative measures.
1. Putting up the lights--Safely.
Lighting up your house is festive and fun for all ages, and it can instill a good old neighborly competition. Hang exterior Christmas lights when the roof and ground are dry and in the daylight. Avoid getting on a ladder or icy roof, if you aren’t comfortable on roof—that’s ok. It’s always better for the family to pay someone or get the Boy Scouts to do the decking. It will give your wife some peace of mind and let’s be honest; age is just a number but are you too old to get on the roof? Be smart and hire it out.
2. Outdoor Fryers.
Deep fried turkey is THE biggest fire hazard. The #1 thing to remember is: water doesn’t put an oil fire out. Put the lid on the fryer to smother the fire, or keep a large box of baking soda nearby to shower the flames. In fryers, you out oil in first, you have to allow room for the turkey. Once the turkey goes in, it displaces oil and can overflow—Danger.
Always keep the BBQ away from the house, the roof, awnings, deck overhangs, and trees. Only barbecue in an open ventilation area, and never fire up the ‘cue on the patio of a 3rd story apartment, it will light up the sprinklers and ruin all your flavorful plans.
Having lots of fires for ambiance and warmth in your home causes build up in the flu. It’s imperative to get a chimney sweep out if you’re a frequent fire lover. Chimney fires can start in a chimney and a fire could blast back out of flu. Clean out any ashes, put the waste in a steel bucket, then dispose of ashes in a steel garbage can--Not plastic. Warm embers in a plastic garbage can reignite and start back up if embers aren’t completely cool. This could cause a garage fire that ignites your home. If you leave the ashes in your fireplace, always clean out the old ones before you begin your annual yuletide warmings. Only cold ashes and old ashes can go in the plastic garbage.
Too much kindling can cause a fire and cardboard and wrapping paper goes up fast and super hot. Keep fires in the fireplace under control. A fireplace is just a place for the fire, if you add too much, it cold spread, be careful not to get it too big.
At Traeger, we love a good wood fire and as always--safety first. With an increased incidence of fire around the holidays, the top 3 things the fire department are called out for are home electrical problems, kitchen fires, and carbon monoxide detectors or fire alarms. Save yourself some unwarranted stress this year with these and tips from the pros.
1. Home Electrical Fires.
There are many ways an electrical fire could occur in a home, one of the easiest ways a fire starts is with an electric fireplace or electric heater. Keep them away from walls, couches, blankets, and beds. Always turn them off when leaving the room and especially when leaving home.
When adorning the house to look like the Las Vegas strip of Christmas lights, make sure to use surge protectors and don’t overload the circuit. Check the circuit ratings on the circuit board to make sure it will accommodate your Christmas Vacation style decorations. Overloading outlets can cause a fire and surge protectors man up and do their job to protect your home.
Christmas trees are a beautiful tradition and whether it’s a real Christmas tree or fake Christmas tree, try to keep the tree lit for only 8 hours at a time. It’s best to put a timer on the tree, you can set it for 2 different times so it’s on during the day and at night, but put it in dark mode when the family goes to bed. Having a timer on the tree will save you from ever having to worry if you left home and left the lights on for a long weekend, and if your extension cords or electrical sockets will get overloaded.
Live Christmas trees smell so good. Make sure to keep it watered so it doesn’t dry out. In warm sunny states like Florida and Arizona, you can toss your new tree into the pool for an overnight soak, then let it dry out for a day or 2 and bring it inside to light and decorate. This will help it retain moisture through the holidays. No matter what, a tree will eventually dry out. Don’t hang onto them very long, inside or outside just take it to the trash or chop it up for firewood, a dry tree is an accident waiting to happen. Just try to keep it fresh and to not turn into a kindling tree.
As soon as the sun begins setting around 5 pm the chill factor encroaches and people fire up the furnace. Whether it’s an electrical furnace or a gas furnace, if it hasn’t been used in awhile (about 9 months) get a furnace tech to check it out before turning up the heat. A technician will test your heating equipment for just $50-60 to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
After your heat is on, if you have a warm air furnace make sure to change the filter regularly and frequently, about every 5 weeks throughout the winter.
With a gas furnace, make sure the pilot light is lit and the area around it is free and clear of storage items such as wrapping paper, camping or fishing gear, or cleaning supplies. A furnace area should be just that, an area just for the furnace, not a storage closet.
2. Kitchen Fires.
It’s as simple as one pan of food burning to ignite a massive and tragic home fire. Kitchen safety is important at every age.
When cooking in the kitchen, no matter what age you are, distraction is fire’s best friend. Even when simply boiling water, do not leave the room. The water can boil down and the pot could start a fire that will run over the stovetop hood and up the wall into the attic. Keep a vigilant watch on food and pots and pans when firing up a holiday cooking extravaganza, and do not leave any cooking device unattended.
If you’re in for a long day Christmas shopping for the family, and you pop a roast or soup in the crockpot to cook all day while you’re gone, plug it into a GFCI outlet. This is an extra precaution to keep outlets and surges protected from overloading power. Not that your crock pot generates a ton of energy, depending on other electrical items running on the circuit the GFCI could trip and save the circuit from overloading or catching fire. Always use a modern version of a crockpot. Beware of old cords and fraying power cords, these could definitely cause a fire.
One of the most common calls the fire department is summoned for is false home alarms. Make sure to change the batteries in home alarm detectors about every 3 years. This will also create fewer heart attacks to you and your family when the alarm blasts and it’s just a worn out battery.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon detectors (CO detectors) alert when odorless gasoline, propane, and natural gas are in the air. It will alert with a long blast when there is gas in the air, this means to evacuate your home. If you have a home alarm, CO detectors are linked into the main system. If the alarm and CO detector are not both going off simultaneously, then there is a power problem. Carbon monoxide detectors are really only good for 5-7 years.
It’s best to have a family fire evacuation plan in place prior to a fire scare, just in case of emergency. Discuss a path to leave the home, how to feel for hot doorknobs or warm carpet, and to crawl if there is smoke. Keep low to prevent smoke inhalation. Have a meeting place outside where the family can be accounted for. Some people have fire kits that include a rope or ladder and a fire retardant blanket to wrap in while vacating the area. If you’re fire alarm rings out in the night, jump out of bed and evacuate. Call 9-1-1. It’s always best to be safe when a fire alarm is ringing out strong, especially when you can’t see the fire or smoke.
Always distinguish candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Never use lit candles on or near a Christmas tree.
From our Traeger family and the South Jordan Fire Dept. to yours, we wish you a very safe and happy holidays filled with flavorful feasts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.