December weather in Southwest Florida means mostly pleasant temperatures (this year, even a little warmer than usual), but this doesn’t keep Jack Frost’s chill from seeping into even the sunshine state from time to time. When cold weather does strike, it’s important to be prepared to effectively and safely keep your home warm and comfortable during the holidays. In fact, many house fires caused each year by home heating equipment can be prevented by following a few simple safety measures.
Here are some tips to safely heat your Sarasota or Charlotte county home this holiday season:
- Avoid placing your Christmas tree directly in front of air vents, space heaters, or fire places. Not only would your tree block the heat, keeping it from properly circulating in your room, but it would increase the risk of a fire.
- Use space heaters only under supervision. Space heaters can be an energy efficient heat source, but avoid leaving your home, going to sleep, or leaving children or pets alone with a space heater running. Also, be sure not to place a space heater on furniture, where it could be knocked over, and always place the heater at least 3 feet away from any household item that could catch fire – especially your Christmas tree.
- Do not use your oven to heat your home. Unless you’re baking holiday goodies under close supervision, in which case the heat is a nice side benefit, please do not use your oven as a heat source.
- Make sure that your heating system is maintained and functioning properly. A well maintained heating system will use less energy and last longer than one that is not maintained. Having a heating & cooling professional come out and check your heating system each year before you use it can potentially save you a lot of money over time in repairs and untimely replacement due to lack of upkeep. By the way, you know that awful odor that occurs when you first turn your heating system on? This is the smell of dust burning off the coils, and is usually completely harmless. The smell should go away after the first or second use. If the odor persists for more than a couple of days, this could be the sign of a problem with your heating system. Contact Kobie Complete Heating & Cooling (or your local heating and cooling company) ASAP.
Here are some more tips to avoid potential fire hazards this holiday season:
- Check your smoke detectors to be sure they are functioning.
- Use LED lights on your Christmas tree – not candles, or lights that become hot. LED lights remain cool to the touch, and still provide that lovely holiday glow that we all enjoy.
- Avoid “flocking” – spraying a white substance that looks like snow – on your Christmas tree or other home decorations. Although we Floridians often yearn for the beauty of a white Christmas, please avoid using this technique, as it could make your home décor into a fire hazard.
- When you purchase a real Christmas tree, be sure it’s fresh. The signs of a fresh tree are green needles, which don’t snap easily when bent and are difficult to pull off. Make sure your tree stays fresh and flame resistant by cutting about 1” off the base of the trunk and placing it in a stand filled with water. Replenish the water as needed.
- Purchase a flame retardant artificial tree. Look for labelling to this effect on the box.
- Make sure your Christmas tree does not obstruct doorways, hallways or other exits. Your tree should not prevent your family or guests from easily exiting your home in case of an emergency.
Keeping all of these tips in mind will ensure that you and your family can enjoy a safe, warm and very merry holiday season.