Holiday Home Safety Tips

   
 
The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. We recommend that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.
   

Holiday Lighting

  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an AmeriSpec inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
Dos and dont's of outdoor holiday lighting | Home & Garden | stltoday.com
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.

Holiday Entertaining

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
Christmas tree | Tradition, History, Decorations, Symbolism, & Facts |  Britannica
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.


 Fireplaces

  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.



Toys and Ornaments

  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.

Children and Pets 

  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.

Security  

  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. 
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.
 
YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AMERISPEC INSPECTOR WISHES YOU
 A SAFE & JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON!

Fall Checklist

  • Winterize and store mower
  • Turn off outdoor water and store hoses
  • Drain and turn off sprinkler system
  • Seal cracks around doors and windows
  • Clean your gutters
  • Inspect your roof
  • Direct drainage away from your foundation
  • Have your furnace serviced
  • Prune vegetation around your home
  • Check chimney for blockages and make sure the damper is working

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Home Winterization

by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kenton Shepard
 

Winterization is the process of preparing a home for the harsh conditions of winter. It is usually performed in the fall before snow and excessive cold have arrived. Winterization protects against damage due to bursting water pipes, and from heat loss due to openings in the building envelope. Inspectors should know how winterization works and be able to pass this information on to their clients

Plumbing System 

Water damage caused by bursting pipes during cold weather can be devastating. A ruptured pipe will release water and not stop until someone shuts off the water. If no one is home to do this, an enormous quantity of water can flood a house and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Even during very small ruptures or ruptures that are stopped quickly, water leakage can result in mold and property damage. Broken water pipes can be costly to repair.

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9 Fireplace Safety Tips for your Home

Written by Chris Hunt; Founder of Firefighter Garage

Home Fireplace Maintenance and Safety: Quick Tips

The NFPA estimates that 15,000 house fires are caused by fireplaces and chimneys per year in the United States.

And no one intends to have their fireplace cause a house fire. No one thinks it will happen to them.

But it does happen. Many times. Every day.

Fireplaces that are poorly maintained, too full, have blocked chimneys, or are surrounded by loose trash, are more likely to cause a house fire than well- maintained and well- managed fireplaces.

To minimize the chances that you’re the victim of the next house fire, you’ll need to take action.

we’ve gathered together some of the best fireplace safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association, US Fire Administration, and around the web.

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Homeowner Tips | Tips for Buying a Home

Home buying tips|a home inspection contingency

Photo via RyanJLane

Seasoned realtors and home owners know a home inspection contingency can make or break a deal. Having one written into an offer can not only save buyers time, money, and frustration, but prevent them from purchasing a space that could literally be on the edge of collapse.

When buyers have an inspection contingency, they can negotiate or back out of their offer if the inspector finds something really wrong with the property, as long as the inspection is done within the timeframe specified in the offer. But with a market as competitive as today’s is, many buyers are going to extreme lengths to secure the home of their dreams, including waiving an inspection contingency and signing up to buy a house without knowing what lies beneath. If you do this, any repairs needed, from a broken dishwasher to new plumbing, are totally on you.

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The Ramifications of Waiving Home Inspections

We know it can be tough to get an accepted offer, especially in today’s market,  and it’s frustrating and disappointing when the offer is rejected but waiving an inspection for your offer to be more attractive may put you in a very difficult position.

We are going to talk about a few of the ramifications here, including the facts around how many people die each year from common occurrences in a home that are often detected during a home inspection, so read on and learn what you can do to protect yourself.

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Why A Home Inspection is so Important

Written By Robert Axselle

We know it can be tough to get an accepted offer, especially in today’s market,  and it’s frustrating and disappointing when the offer is rejected but waiving an inspection for your offer to be more attractive may put you in a very difficult position.

We are going to talk about a few of the ramifications here, including the facts around how many people die each year from common occurrences in a home that are often detected during a home inspection, so read on and learn what you can do to protect yourself.

In addition to the safety aspect of home inspections, the inspection industry and the inspection process provide agents, sellers, and buyers a layer of legal protection

In today’s hot sellers’ market, some real estate professionals are telling, advising, or pressuring clients to waive their inspection in order to make their offer more attractive. That’s a great way to get sued if you are a real estate professional and it’s a great way to own a lot of unforeseen deficiencies if you are a buyer. Believe it or not, you can be sued as the home seller after closing.

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Central Air-Conditioning System Inspection

by Nick Gromicko, CMI®
 
A building’s central air-conditioning system must be periodically inspected and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.Exterior Condenser Unit
 

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Choosing a Manufactured Home

Manufactured homes no longer have to be the simple, rectangular, boxy trailer homes of the past. Depending on the size of your home site, you can choose from single-section or multi-section designs. Homes range in size from 900 to 2,500 square feet and can be customized to meet your needs and preferences. 
Here are some important questions to consider when choosing your manufactured home.

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Child-Proofing Your Home: 12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children

by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kate Tarasenko
  
About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully. 
In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.  

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