Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Croft Sales & Service in Bountiful, Croft Fireplace Center in Salt Lake City, and Colorland Power Equipment in St. George. We hope this festive season is kind to you as you prepare to welcome friends and family into your homes and celebrate the holidays.
You’re getting ready to hang your stockings by the chimney with care, and we sincerely hope Saint Nicholas will be good to your family this year. At the same time, we want to offer some care of our own — a set of safety tips that will help you protect yourself and your loved ones from fire hazards and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Electrical equipment, including tree lights and indoor Christmas lights, are obvious fire hazards, but portable space heaters and electric blankets can be just as dangerous, if not more so.
Although space heaters are convenient sources of “zoned heat” during the coldest months of the year, they also pose significant hazards where fire and electrocution are concerned. Research indicates that space heaters cause some 65,000 house fires in the United States annually
, resulting in hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage.
In addition to installing a smoke alarm in every room in the house (which you should do anyway), take the following precautions when using space heaters:
- Be sure your heater has a label certifying it has been tested and found safe.
- Read the instructions and warning labels before plugging in the heater.
- Inspect the heater for loose connections and cracked plugs before each use. If you identify loose, broken or worn parts, do not use the heater until it has been repaired by a certified technician.
- Plug the space heater directly into the wall. Do not use power strips or extension cords, which could overheat and ignite.
- Do not leave the heater’s power cord exposed in a doorway or on the floor of a high-traffic area, where someone could trip over the cord and upset the heater.
- Keep the space heater at least 3 feet from flammable materials, such as paper, clothing, or carpet.
- Place the space heater on a flat, level surface; avoid setting it on furniture, cabinets, or carpet.
- Never leave the space heater unattended; turn it off when you leave the room.
- Turn off and unplug the space heater before retiring to bed for the night.
- Never use a space heater for a purpose other than its intended use. For example, drying clothes or cooking with a space heater is dangerous.
When you unplug the space heater and get into bed, a heating pad or electric blanket can be a welcome source of comfort. However, they cause nearly 1,000 fires a year
, and most of those fires begin with electric blankets more than 10 years old. To protect yourself as you use these products:
- Inspect heating pads or electric blankets for dark, charred spots and frayed power cords. Discard and replace worn blankets or pads.
- Do not place an additional blanket on top of an electric blanket; do not fold it while in use. Either action could cause the blanket to overheat and ignite.
- Never leave an electric blanket turned on while sleeping.
- Turn off any heating appliance when you leave the room.
- An electric blanket and a heating pad should never be used at the same time.
Finally, if you heat your home with natural gas, oil, wood, or coal, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when these fuels fail to burn completely.
Carbon monoxide (CO, for short) is a colorless, odorless gas that is highly toxic. Often called “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide frequently catches its victims unaware because it is virtually undetectable without an alarm similar to a smoke alarm.
In addition to installing a carbon-monoxide alarm in every room in the house, protect yourself and loved ones from CO poisoning by following these rules:
- Never operate gas-powered appliances, such as a generator, indoors or in an enclosed space, such as a garage or basement. Opening a door or window is unlikely to prevent a CO buildup that could be fatal.
- Even if operating a generator outside, avoid doing so near doors, windows, or vents of enclosed spaces.