Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cold Weather Problems - Precautions To Prevent Water Pipes From Freezing


With below-freezing temperatures in the forecast, a few simple steps can keep you and your family safe and your home's pipes from freezing. Please review the below tips to help minimize the possibility or damage.


  • Prepare your pipes in advance. Remove, drain and store garden hoses used outside. If practical, use an inside valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing pipes just inside your house.
  • Properly winterize automatic landscaping sprinkler systems. 
  • Check and monitor any exposed pipes in unheated areas such as basements, garages, attics and crawlspaces.
  • Locate the main water shut off for your home so that if a pipe bursts, you can shut off the water and minimize damage.
  • Open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms to let heat in and around the plumbing.  Especially important if some of these pipes run up against outside walls.
  • Keep any garage doors closed if there are water pipes or supply lines in the garage.  If attached to home and safe, consider opening the door to the garage to allow some home heat to enter the garage. While your heating bill may take a hit, the cost will not compare to costly repairs from water damage.
  • DO NOT use kerosene or other fuel fed heating devices in the garage to heat it.
  • Let water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe (even at a dribble) can help prevent pipes from freezing.
  • DO NOT use a blow torch, r or any other open flame to try and thaw out potentially frozen pipes!
  • Mobile homes are typically more vulnerable to frozen pipes so take proper precautions. 
  • Keep the thermostat set to no lower than 55° F during the evening hours or if you will be leaving the home for an extended period of time (day or night).
 
Please check on your elderly neighbors and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety and always having working smoke alarms in your home. Visit us at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe for more safety tips.

Stay informed. Sign up for Alert Montgomery. For information, visit https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov/register.php

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why are space heaters dangerous? What you need to know!


December through March are peak months for home fire deaths. While space heaters can be a quick way to heat up a chilly room, that warmth comes with a BIG warning label: Each year, space heaters are involved in 79% of fatal home heating fires. As temperatures drop, here are 10 things you need to know:


  1. Give the heater some space. Keep your space heater at least THREE feet away from anything flammable. That means clothes and blankets, stacks of newspapers, furniture, rugs and even walls. Allow at least three feet of open space on each side of the unit.



  2. Never (ever) use an extension cord with a space heater. To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.

  3. Opt for quality. When shopping for a space heater, select a unit that has all the latest safety features and the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label of approval. Look for cool-to-the-touch housings and automatic shutoff features that turn the unit off if it’s tipped over or overheating. Some units will automatically shut off if their infrared sensors detect a person or object that is too close to the heater panel—making them desirable choices for households with kids or pets.


  4. Never leave a space heater “on” in an unoccupied room. Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed. Throw on some extra blankets and unplug the unit as an extra precaution.


  5. Size matters. Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.

  6. Make sure your house can handle it. Space heaters use a lot of electricity --- as much as fifteen 100-watt light bulbs. This can be too much for older houses with old wires and electrical circuits. When wires get overheated, fires can also start inside the walls where they are hard to spot. If the circuit breaker trips, don’t plug it back in.

  7. Keep space heaters away from water. Like any electrical device, they pose a shock hazard. To help prevent shocks, avoid using space heaters in rooms where spills and moisture build-ups are likely such at bathrooms and kitchens.

  8. Safety first. Check your heaters regularly – look for frayed wires and remove dust accumulation on grates, grills, coils and other elements of the heater.



  9. Hot, hot, hot. Some parts of the heater can become really hot. Children, seniors and pets are especially vulnerable to getting burned.




  10. Finally, don’t rely totally on space heaters to heat your home. They’re designed to supplement a central heating strategy – not replace it. Make sure every room in which you plan to use a space heater has a working smoke alarm and that your house has a carbon monoxide alarm.





Thursday, December 8, 2016

Eight Things Never to Do With an Extension Cord

Extension cords are a convenient way to bring temporary power to electrical devices. Used without proper caution, they can become a fire hazard and pose a serious risk to your personal safety. Follow these tips to help keep your home safe:

Selecting extension cords

  • Purchase only cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • For outdoor projects, use only extension cords marked for outdoor use.
  • Read the instructions (if available) for information about the cord’s correct use and the amount of power it draws when running.
  • Select cords that are rated to handle the wattage of the devices with which they’ll be used. A cord’s gauge indicates its size: The smaller the number, the larger the wire and the more electrical current the cord can safely handle.
  • Also consider the length you’ll need. Longer cords can’t handle as much current as shorter cords of the same gauge.
  • Choose cords with polarized or three-prong plugs.
  • For use with larger appliances, thick, round, low-gauge extension cords are best. For smaller appliances and electronics, you can use thin or flat cords.

Using extension cords

  • Never remove an extension cord’s grounding pin in order to fit it into a two-prong outlet.
  • Never use extension cords to power appliances. Plug appliances directly into wall outlets. .
  • Never use indoor extension cords outdoors.
  • Don’t plug multiple cords together.
  • Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Never tape extension cords to floors or attach them to surfaces with staples or nails.
  • Don’t bend or coil cords when they’re in use.
  • Immediately stop using extension cords that feel hot to the touch or show signs of deterioration.

Caring for extension cords

  • Always store cords indoors.
  • Unplug extension cords when they’re not in use.
  • Throw away damaged cords.
  • Pull the plug—not the cord—when disconnecting from the outlet.
  • Consider covering unused cord receptacles with childproof covers.
And remember that extension cords are intended as temporary wiring solutions. If you find you’re using them on a permanent basis, consider updating your home’s electrical system.

Note: the information in this article was obtained from various sources including State Farm Insurance. While it is believed to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional.