The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting cooler. It’s time once again to break out the pumpkin spice, don your favorite plaid and cheer on your favorite football team. While the season is full of fun occasions and traditions, fall is also a time of preparation and precaution. As your household battens down the hatches ahead of the colder months, be sure to follow these safety tips.
Inspect Chimneys Before Use
When the temperatures outside plummet, there’s nothing like a roaring fire to offset the cold. Functional and atmospheric, a fireplace can provide warmth and light during the darkest days of the year. Before you start piling the kindling too high, though, it’s a good idea to have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional. Critters may have moved in over the summer, and even the most carefully maintained chimney will need routine cleanings each year. If you’re not sure what the current state of your fireplace and chimney are like, call a qualified inspector in for guidance.
Add Lighting to Your Front and Backyards
Cooler weather often means inviting friends and family over to celebrate holidays, watch the big game or enjoy roasting s’mores over the firepit in the backyard. Unfortunately, fall also brings shorter days and less sunlight overall. If you’ve been relying on natural light to guide guests through your yard, it’s high time to install additional outdoor lighting. Without a clear path to your front door, guests may trip and fall. Lights can keep your family safer while providing additional security that discourages intruders.
Be Smart About Space Heaters
Fires may be cozy, and furnaces may heat your entire home, but nothing will take the chill away faster than a space heater. Ideal for drafty homes that struggle to retain heat, these appliances are a must for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, space heaters are more dangerous than they seem. Because we tend to use them while cuddled under blankets, there’s an increased risk of fire and burns. The next time you reach for your space heater, be sure you’re not feeling too drowsy — falling asleep next to this appliance could be deadly. Consider investing in a space heater with an automatic shut-off option, and always take care to place the appliance at least three feet from flammable or combustible materials.
Replace Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
We don’t give much thought to the modest smoke detector. Silent for the majority of its lifetime, the device isn’t exactly what you’d call a squeaky wheel. The carbon monoxide alarm receives even less attention, and many forget about it altogether. Start a new household tradition this fall: Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as you turn back the clocks. Linking the chore to Daylight Savings Time can help remind you to make fire and carbon monoxide safety a priority.
Check Out Your Furnace
A lot can happen in a year. If it’s been a while since you’ve turned on your furnace, it’s a good idea to give it a once over before firing it up. For starters, be sure nothing flammable is close by. Check the filter and see if it is dirty. If you have combustion air ducts coming into the room with the furnace, check and make sure it is not blocked. Then try turning the furnace on —.newer units should fire up right away, while older models might take a bit to warm up.
These inspection tips can help prevent operational issues and limit the risk of fires. Thorough furnace inspections, however, should be left to the professionals. Annual inspections can ensure they’re working effectively and safely.
Take Care on Ladders
Keeping gutters clear of falling leaves is an autumnal chore nobody enjoys. While you might be tempted to get it over with as quickly as possible, rushing through the task could put your safety at risk. The chore usually involves a ladder. More than 90,000 people are hospitalized in ladder-related accidents each year, so be incredibly cautious as you maneuver on the structure. Always maintain three points of contact to ensure stability, and make sure the ladder is placed on firm, even ground before you attempt to climb it. If possible, have a friend hold the ladder in place for the safest gutter cleaning process possible.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Close at Hand
Tis the season for bonfires, candles, light displays and crockpots. Unfortunately, these items can all lead to fires when used improperly. As you celebrate the season, make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher (or two!) close by — you never know when you might need to spring into action. Such a tool is truly invaluable in an emergency, and while you may never actually need to pull the pin, having a fire extinguisher nearby can provide you with serious peace of mind.
Safety Knowledge is Power
The more you know about the potential risks and hazards lurking in your home this fall, the safer you and your family will be. By educating yourself on the most common risks associated with this time of year, you can make more informed decisions about home maintenance. Interested in taking your passion for home systems and safety to the next level? Our online Home Inspection Course is ideal for aspiring home inspectors!