Glittering décor, twinkling lights, festive parties and lavish meals — they are all wonderful ways for sharing the joy of the holiday season. Making your celebrations with family and friends as stress-free as possible means controlling and minimizing risks that could make your home unsafe.
Walton Gas offers these tips that can give you peace of mind before and while you welcome holiday visitors into your home.
FURNACE and WATER HEATER
It’s Murphy’s Law that a poorly maintained furnace or water heater is sure to malfunction just as holiday guests cross your threshold. Give yourself a holiday gift by having your natural gas appliances serviced by a qualified technician before holiday festivities begin. Also:
- Set water heater thermostats to 125 degrees or lower to prevent scalding.
- Keep the space around furnaces and water heaters clean and clear of build-up, rags, newspapers and other debris.
STOVES and OVENS
Kitchen fires can happen in an instant, but a little preparation can ensure they don’t happen to you.
- Don’t wear loose clothing, spray cooking oil, or use paper towels near an open flame. And don’t leave food packaging on or near the stove.
- Never cover the temperature controls, air openings or vents of an appliance.
- Keep range and oven burners clean.
- Never use the flames from a gas range to heat a room or dry your clothes.
A beautifully decorated hearth is a Christmas tradition, but a gas fireplace can ignite nearby combustibles due to the heat they put off.
- Create a 3-foot safety zone around your fireplace and keep all combustibles, including throw pillows, blankets, holiday decorations and wrapping paper, beyond the zone. Children should not play in this zone.
- Invest in safety screens or fire-resistant hearth guards to keep children, pets and obstructions at a safe distance from a hot fireplace.
- On the mantle, use fire-resistant decorations and don’t allow them to dangle. Remove stockings when a fire is burning.
- Don’t leave the fireplace on if you leave home or go to bed.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of clothes dryer fires increases in the winter months. For natural gas dryer safety during the holidays, remember:
- Empty the lint screen before every load. Thick fabrics and newer fabrics create more lint, which can get trapped in the vent.
- Don’t overload. Dry heavy sweaters, coats and blankets in small loads.
- Keep the area around the dryer clean. Clear away clutter, especially flammables like gift wrap, boxes, guests’ coats, combustible cleaning supplies and rags. Keep the area free from pet hair and pet-related clutter.
- Never run the dryer while you’re asleep or away from home.
- ✔Check detectors. Check all of your home’s life-saving safety devices, including carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms for functionality. If you didn’t change the batteries when Daylight Saving Time began on Nov. 3, do it now.
- ✔Know what to do if a leak occurs. If you smell rotten eggs, it’s probably not Aunt Betty’s eggnog that’s gone bad. It could be a gas leak. If you suspect a leak, move everyone (and pets) outside of the house immediately. Don’t allow anyone to use sources of ignition, such as cell phones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches or landlines, as natural gas can ignite from a spark or open flame. Once you are in a safe place, call (877) 427-4321 or 911. Stay away until emergency personnel indicate it is safe to return.
- ✔Find the valve. You’ll probably never need it, but it’s a good idea to know where the main natural gas shutoff valve is located and how to use it in the event of an emergency. If your shutoff requires a screwdriver or wrench, store one nearby for quick access.
- ✔Keep an operational fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure everyone in the home knows where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it in case of an emergency.
- ✔Call before you dig. If you plan to plant your live Christmas tree in the yard after the holidays, call 811 beforehand. Walton Gas will come out and stake off the location of underground gas lines so that you don’t rupture any while digging, which could cause an explosion.
The holiday season can be a stressful time of year, but you can give yourself some relief by taking simple steps and making a commitment to safety that will make the holidays – and the entire year – brighter and merrier.
LEARN MORE “Going Griswold” this holiday season? Read these safe holiday decorating tips from Walton EMC.