Fall and Winter Safety Tips for Your Muskoka Home

Fall Maintenance in your Bacebridge Home - Karen ActonIt’s finally here, in spite of the glorious weather the leaves are turning and Fall has arrived. October usually brings us our first burst of cold and a time change that means it’s time to check our smoke and C02 alarms again. It is also a great time to check your furnace filters and clean out the dust that may have accumulated in your duct work.

Here are some other tips put together from the web site of the Ontario Fire Marshal to help keep you and your Muskoka home safe.

FIREPLACES

• Clean the ashes regularly. When you remove fireplace embers or ash, place them in a metal container with a lid and cover them with water. Do not place them in a plastic or paper bag or other container that is not fire-resistant. Do not dispose of them indoors or close to your home or another structure.
• Use care with “fire salts,” which produce coloured flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
• Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
• Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
• Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned and dried wood.
• Never leave the fire unattended or let it smolder.

CANDLES

• Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire
• Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to collect dripping wax.
• Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
• Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
• Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
• Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
• During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
• Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern.
• Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm).
• Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or containers that can melt or break.
• Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.
• Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.

HEATING SYSTEMS

• Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
• Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
• Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
• Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discoloured, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
• Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported, free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
• Is the chimney solid, with no cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

KITCHEN SAFETY

• If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
• Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
• Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
• Again, have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here’s what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:

• Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid. Do not remove the lid until the pan is completely cooled.
• Turn off the heat immediately.
• Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires.
• Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire.
• Never throw water on a grease fire.

It may seem that I am stating the obvious but it is amazing how easily we can become complacent and after such a long and lovely summer at your Muskoka Home or Cottage it is a good thing to take a moment to think about the things we all need to do as we shift from summer mode to winter mode. Remember, as we “fall back” change your clock and take time to make your Muskoka home or cottage safe for Fall and Winter.