In keeping with this season’s customary resolution making, here are a few ways to avoid potential household hazards, minimize energy usage and save a bit of money in the new year.
Many of us will prepare more meals at home this year in an effort to eat more healthfully. But bear in mind that cooking hazards are the No. 1 cause of home fires, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International. It may seem like obvious advice, but with distractions rampant in a busy household, stay in the kitchen at all times when you’re cooking. When you’re done, double-check to be sure that the oven and all burners and appliances are off. Make this a regular step in your cooking routine.
Heating pads and electric blankets cause hundreds of fires each year, according to ESFI, with electric blankets more than 10 years old being the main culprit. If a heating pad or electric blanket is old or worn, has any dark or frayed spots, or has a cracked or frayed electric cord, replace it. Don’t allow anything to cover the surface of an electric blanket or heating pad while it is in use, including other blankets or pets, as this could cause the appliance to overheat and potentially start a fire. Although tempting, never use a heating pad or electric blanket while sleeping. Instead, use the devices to warm your bed before you get in it. Turn them off once you’re snuggled up.
Despite the fact that poisonous carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable without the use of a CO detector, around 70 percent of U.S. homes lack this lifesaving device. Installing a CO detector in your home and testing it regularly in conjunction with your smoke alarms is one of the most important and simplest things you can do to protect your family.
Portable generators are one of the leading contributors to carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate a generator inside your home or in other enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Opening doors and windows or operating fans to attempt to ventilate a generator will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Even with a working CO alarm, you never should use a gasoline-powered generator inside your home or garage. Position the generator outside the home and away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to enter the home.
Automobiles present another CO risk. Never leave a vehicle running in your garage, even if the garage door is open. Remove the vehicle immediately after starting it and turn it off as soon as you park. Decreasing your car’s idling time also reduces emissions.
If your heating system isn’t keeping pace with chilly winter temperatures and you’re looking for supplemental heat, exercise caution with fireplaces and space heaters. Although a fireplace is generally not an efficient way to heat your home, if you are using it, use a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out. Never leave a burning fire unattended, and make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed.
A space heater can be more effective than the fireplace, but it’s essential that you read the instructions on the unit before you use it. If your space heater requires venting, make sure you have vented it to the outdoors. Always allow at least 3 feet of empty area around space heaters, particularly staying clear of anything flammable.
Never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
Your electric cooperative encourages you to prioritize staying safe as highly as staying warm this winter.