Holiday Season Safety Tips
Does Everyone Know the Emergency Plan?
If people in your home needed to make a quick exit in the middle of the night, would they know what to do and be able to reunite safely afterwards? Having an established emergency plan is especially important during the holiday season, when you may be entertaining visitors less familiar with your home. Here are tips recommended by experts:
- Make and share a diagram of your home showing all of the exit points.
- Pick a safe spot outside where everyone will meet.
- Teach children to not be afraid of people in uniforms, so they don't hide from firefighters.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly.
- Sleep with a pair of shoes near the bed so that you never have to walk over hot surfaces or broken glass with bare feet.
- Practice finding your way out of the house with your eyes shut.
Resource: Click here for an excellent checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), complete with space to draw your home emergency exit diagram. (4-page pdf.)
Are You Decorating Safely?
Did you know that half of all holiday decoration fires start just because decorations are placed too near a heat source? It's easy to overlook simple things like this when there's a lot of holiday activity going on.
- Check flammable materials to make sure none have been placed near (or have fallen next to) any kind of heat source.
- Replace damaged holiday lights. Look for frayed cords and loose bulb connections, and use clips instead of nails to hang the lights.
- Don't link more than three light strands unless directions specifically state that you can.
- Use surge protectors as outlets, and occasionally check electrical cords to see if they become hot.
- Don't use indoor lights outdoors, and vice versa.
Resource: One-page safety tip sheets from the NFPA on winter holiday decorating and setting up a Christmas tree.
Could You Quickly Handle a Cooking Fire?
If the deep-fried turkey decides to go to the dark side and a grease fire ensues, would you be able to safely extinguish it? When it comes to oil-based fires, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what you should do.
The "Do" List:
- Turn off the heat source immediately.
- Place a lid or wet kitchen towel over the pan to smother the fire. (It's a good idea to keep a pan lid handy any time you're cooking with oil.)
- Pour baking soda (not baking powder) on the fire, but be aware that it takes a lot of baking soda to have much effect.
- Keep a Class ABC fire extinguisher in the kitchen near the exit. (Oil-based fires require a Class B extinguisher.)
The "Do Not" List:
- Do not put wate r on an oil fire! Water sinks to the bottom and becomes instantly superheated, causing steam to burst up explosively through the burning oil.
- Do not panic and put flour, sugar, or any ingredient besides baking soda on an oil fire. They look similar, but they act more like fuel than suppressants.
- Do not try to carry the pan outside. It is too easy to get burned by splashing oil on the way.
Resource: The user-friendly Fire Extinguisher 101 website tells you everything you need to know about the best fire extinguishers for your home.
Do You Have a Car Emergency Kit?
Holiday season car travel means possibly encountering bad weather conditions or a breakdown. That's when having a good car emergency kit can mean the difference between shivering through the night or snacking away in relative comfort until help arrives. Here are some helpful resources:
|AAA car kit available on Amazon.com|
Basic Car Emergency Kit Checklist
Extended Car Emergency Kit Checklist
Granted, if you're driving through the Rockies in January you probably won't need the snake bite kit that's in the extended version, but it's a good basis to use for ideas. There are also many kits available for sale, such as the one pictured here. (I don't recommend any specific kit, this is just an example. You can click on the image or here to read the details on Amazon.com)
Resource: Mylar thermal blankets take up almost no space and are very inexpensive. Click here to see an example on Amazon.com.
Do You Know How to Handle a Car Skid?
If "steer into the skid" is something you've heard a hundred times, here's some advice you might find surprising: According to auto racing instructor Mac Demere, trying to steer into the skid is not the best option for most drivers.
He explains that while steering into the skid is the ideal move to make, most drivers aren't sure what it means, and those that do know usually over-execute the move and risk launching themselves into oncoming traffic once they regain traction. Demere believes it's ultimately safer for most people to do the following:
For rear wheel skids:
- Pound the brake pedal and then hold it down until you come to a stop.
- Counter-steer only if you are confident of not over-correcting.
For front wheel skids:
- Leave your hands where they are (do not counter-steer).
- Take your foot off the gas pedal.
Resource: If you're curious about the logic behind these tips, please click here to read the Demere article, it's interesting and especially pertinent at this time of year.
Are you planning to buy or sell a home, or do you know someone who is? Please call or email me - I'm never too busy to help you and the people you care about with real estate.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)