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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Fall Safety in the Home

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the October 30, 2005 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Fall is here, holidays are just around the corner and many activities take place this time of year. As we hurry to do fall cleaning inside and out, safety is an important issue. During October we have had many awareness weeks to help us keep up-to-date on the importance of fire safety, indoor air quality, etc., but we must take action and practice safety precautions.

It is time to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Along with testing this equipment, having a fire safety plan for your family is important. Discuss what to do, where to go and how to get out of the house safely.

In 2003, there were 388,500 reported house fires. In recent years, an estimated 18,000 house fires were started by candles while 240 fires were started by Christmas trees. In the U.S. someone dies from a house fire every three hours. These fires not only cause death, but also injuries and billions of dollars in damage to houses. Smoking is the leading cause of house fires.

In December many of the fires are caused by candles and decorations catching on fire. These fires can be prevented by taking safety precaution during the holiday season but remember them all year long.

Ladders are useful this time of year with outside clean up and decorating but they are very dangerous. Every year an estimated 300 deaths and over 100,000 injuries requiring medical attention occur from falling off ladders.

Safety tips include:

  • Choose a ladder that is not broken and suitable for the job and person using it. Move the ladder to reach new areas rather than stretch too far and losing your balance. Prevent slippage by placing the ladder on a non-skid surface or adding rubber treads. Never stand on the top three rungs of the ladder. It is always best to have someone around when using a ladder in case of an accident.

  • Always check extension cords to see they are suitable and approved for the situation you are using them. Don't overload extension cords.

  • Check lights before using them in decorating.

  • Always extinguish candles when leaving a room. Keep candles away from decorations and do not use on them to decorate Christmas trees. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily and large enough to catch the wax. Keep the wick of candles trimmed to 1/4 inch. Put taper and pillar candles out when they burn down to two inches.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Children playing with these cause many house fires.

Check your home, smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors and have a safe holiday season.

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