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Safety tips for a safe and happy holiday season

Before you begin shoveling the snow, warm up your muscles for approximately ten minutes by doing stretches or other light exercisesWith Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza and a number of other regional festivals coming up, it’s time to focus on keeping our homes and families safe, so here’s a few tips from the Professional Home Inspector members of OntarioACHI.

Appliance Safety Mark Logos1. Check for the Certification Mark

We all love to adorn our homes at this time of year, but also splash out on new electrical and other appliances.  Make sure when purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, gas appliances, or carbon monoxide alarms, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.

2. Sound the Alarm: Test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work, and be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home — especially near sleeping areas.  Remember:  No matter the age of your home, if you have any oil, propane or gas-burning appliances, furnace or water heater, a wood or gas fireplace, or an attached garage or carport, you must have working carbon monoxide alarms installed near sleeping areas. It’s hard enough to pay for all those holiday goodies without having to pick up the tab for a $235 ticket from your local fire department, a $50,000 fine for contravention of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, or worse. More information here: http://www.hawkinsgignacact.ca/

3. Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking: Leaving cooking food unattended is the number one cause of kitchen fires.   If a fat fire occurs, try to smother it with a lid. Never attempt to put it out with water.   Fat floats on water whether it’s on fire or not.  Apart from that the water will turn instantly to steam and feed the fire further.

4.  Keep cloth items away from heat sources. Wearing long sleeves or baggy clothing while cooking and leaving potholders and dishtowels lying near the cooker are great ways to accidentally start a fire. Don’t wear flammable clothing near a gas flame.  While you new polyester dressing gown might be snuggly warm, it’ll be  a lot warmer if it ignites.   Having too many cooks in the kitchen doesn’t just spoil the broth either.      Ensuring there is enough room for everyone to cook safely will help prevent anyone from getting burned or cut.   Remember: Chaos in the kitchen leads to accidents.

5.  Let it snow, but keep it clear – safely: Keeping your driveway and walkway clear of snow and ice will help prevent falls this winter.  Be aware that some jurisdictions require you to keep the sidewalk outside your home clear too.   If you have a history of heart problems, don’t shovel the snow, pay someone else to do it for you.  Assuming you are fit enough to do so, before you go outside to shoveling the snow, warm up your muscles for approximately ten minutes by doing stretches or other light exercises, cold muscles tear easily, and wear something warm when you are outside.  You might get hot shoveling, but hypothermia can set in rapidly if you are not properly covered, not to mention those pesky frost burns that will keep your skin lit up like a Christmas tree for weeks or months to come.

6.  Let’s get Physical.   Winter driving isn’t just about having snow tires, its more about the laws of Physics.  Four wheel drive does not help you on icy roads.  The bigger you are the longer you take to stop.  Even small amounts of heat can save your life.  Checkout the Ministry of Transport Safety Tips for winter driving in Ontario.  http://ontario.ca/winterdriving

Above all, have a fantastic holiday, and be safe for 2017.


About Len Inkster

Len is an accomplished consultant with a strong background in root-cause-analysis and education. Coming from both an Information Systems Security and Construction background Len is an all-rounder. Len's Inspection skills range from Home Inspections to Mould, Radon, and other Indoor Air Quality consultancy services, as well as Asbestos identification and sampling services. Although fully capable, Len has consistently refused to provide remediation services on the basis that to provide inspection services and remediation services is, in his eyes, a serious conflict of interest. You can call Len at (289) 214-7531 or email him at leni @ fppi.ca
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