Fall into Safe Energy, Heating, and Weather Preparedness Habits
The seasonal change provides a few additional safety challenges. Follow this list to make sure you are adequately prepared for them.
Fall is just around the corner. The summer sun is making way for autumn's glorious colors. The cool weather is finally here, but that shouldn't make you complacent about safety.
September is National Preparedness Month, so it’s worth considering how you and your family can enjoy the falling leaves without letting the seasonal hazards catch you off guard.
To help you stay on top of safety, we've prepared this Fall readiness list. Here's what you should be considering as the weather is changing.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Cooling weather means you'll be turning on the heat again. Depending on what warms your home, you may have to worry about carbon monoxide. It's an invisible, odorless gas that can kill in minutes, and it can be released by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline, or wood.
Althoug you can't see carbon monoxide in your home, you can watch for the conditions that produce it. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the early warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Texas Energy recommends purchasing and installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home to instantly alert you to the presence of smoke or gas. These devices can seem to blend into the ceiling and are easy to forget, but don't overlook them when you're preparing for the colder months.
Test them to make sure they're functioning properly. Grab a small ladder and take a close look at each alarm. If any of them are beeping or flashing, they will need new batteries to continue keeping you safe. Some may also have replacement dates listed on them - consult each label to see if it's time to get a new detector.
(Learn more in Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer)
Heating Up Your House
Carbon monoxide isn't the only concern you should have when warming up your home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about a quarter of home heating fires are due to failure to clean heating equipment, especially those that use solid fuel. So before you turn on the central heater, take the time to clean out the filter and give the entire unit a good look. Remove any dust or debris around the appliance to prevent any accidental combustion.
Perform the same inspection on any portable heaters and warming pads. Don't heat them up until made sure that they're clean and have inspected the wires for damage.
if your home has a wood-burning fireplace, hire the services of a chimney sweep before starting your first fire of the season. Even if the fireplace looks clean and well-kept, soot that accumulates in the chimney's length can ignite, resulting in an uncontrolled fire.
Severe Weather Radar
Autumn may not have extreme heat, but it still has its fair share of severe weather. Hurricanes, early ice storms, and other unpredictable events means that everyone should be prepared for the unexpected.
Here are a few preparation tips to help you and your family weather these events:
- Stock up on water, canned food, and first aid kits
- Pile blankets and pillows in a safe area in case a power outage leaves your home cold
- Inspect your home for any structural damage that could cause it to fail during a storm, such as a damaged roof
- Never attempt to drive through floodwaters
(Find out what you need in First Aid Kits: The Essential List)
Fight Off Fall Germs
The arriving cold also brings exposure to germs. Colds and flus become more common as people remain indoors and in close proximity to each other.
Keep a supply of hand sanitizer and tissues in convenient locations so that coughs and sneezes can be isolated as much as possible. Wash your hands frequently and keep them from your face. .
Stay out of work and keep your children home from school if you start to show flu symptoms. Rest and recovery are essential to overcoming the illness, and staying away from others will keep them safe from infection as well.
With kids heading back to school, they'll be away from you and the rules they typically follow at home. Before sending them out, take the time to give them a safety refresher.
Some of the topics you can go over with them include:
- Knowing which bus they have to take and where they should wait for it
- How to cross the steet safely - at crosswalks, when the pedestrian signal is on, or with the help of a crossing guard
- How to ride their bike safely and how to use the right hand signals when cycling
- Reviewing basic school safety information
The change of the seasons is a perfect opportunity to take stock of your entire household's safety preparedness. Divide the labor by assigning certain family members to various tasks, including testing the alarms. It's a great way to teach young children about their role in keeping a safe household.