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Home Inspections in Oakland County MI & Surrounding areas

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November 2019 Newsletter

Happy autumn from Sterling Home Services! Last month we talked about 
fall maintenance opportunities to get your home winterized while the weather was still warm. If you missed it, check out our October newsletter! ‘Tis the season for staying warm and lighting up the night; this month, with Thanksgiving here and Christmas just around the corner, we want to focus on holiday home safety!
9 Critical Holiday Home Safety Tips
With temperatures dropping, many of us will be cranking our furnaces to the max, starting up those fireplaces, and bringing in reinforcements like portable space heaters. And for those already stringing up lights and bringing in trees, there are a whole host of fire hazards to be mindful of; in fact, December is the deadliest month for electrical fires. Let us take some of the stress out of the holiday season with this simple checklist to help you make sure you have a safe holiday!
1. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. 
Now is a great time to check the batteries and expiration dates on these life-saving devices. Clean out any dust that has accumulated by vacuuming or blowing it out using canned air. If necessary, give yourself an early gift and upgrade to a smart smoke detector that can send you text or email alerts whenever it senses danger.
2. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and that it’s easily accessible.
Purchase one or more multipurpose (ABC) dry chemical fire extinguishers for your home. They can be used on all three types of fires: combustible materials (wood, cloth, paper), flammable liquids (oil, gasoline, grease), and electrical fires. Be sure to keep one handy in the kitchen where you can easily find it when you need it, since kitchen fires are some of the most common.
3. Have evacuation plans and escape ladders.
Fires occur more often during the holidays, and it’s important to have an evacuation plan. Developing a strategy can be a life-saving present for your family. If you have a two-story home, make sure upstairs bedrooms are equipped with escape ladders for the windows, and that all members of the household know how to use them.
4. Sweep the chimney and clean the furnace. 
Heating equipment such as furnaces and fireplaces cause many deaths in the U.S. each year. Take the time to have a professional inspect the furnace, clean out air ducts, and sweep the inside of the chimney to make sure your home is heated safely.
5. Make sure candles have plenty of clearance.
Beautiful candles can light up the holidays with a special glow, but they can easily become a fire hazard. Make sure they have at least 6” of clearance on all sides, that they are placed on a sturdy base, and refrain from putting any greenery such as garlands too close. Don’t leave lit candles unattended, and make sure to check on them frequently to make sure they haven’t burned down too far.
To help reduce these risks without sacrificing that softly glowing aesthetic, switch to battery-operated flameless candles. These come in a variety of sizes and styles and are safer to use!
6. Never overload your extension cords or wall sockets.
Do not link more than three strands of lights unless the instructions indicate it’s safe, and make sure extension cords are rated for the amount of load they will carry. Cords and light wires should not be warm to the touch. Also, connect lights to a circuit that is protected with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), or use a cord or plug that has GFCI protection built into it.
7. Portable space heaters.
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires in the U.S. Don’t turn on those space heaters until they’ve passed your inspection. Here are some things to look out for:
  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Heaters must be kept at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
8. Practice careful Christmas tree picking and placement.
For real trees, select a tree that is as fresh and green as possible. The needles on a fresh tree will bend instead of breaking and should not fall off easily. Make sure to use a stand that holds water to prevent the tree from drying out, and make sure to place it away from any fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters.
If you’re choosing an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled “fire resistant.” If it comes with lights installed, look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal of approval to indicate that the proper wiring was used.
9. Keep an eye on your Christmas lights.
Before stringing those lights on your tree or house, inspect the strands to make sure that there aren’t any frayed cords or cracked bulbs. Replace any broken lamps and throw away any cords with exposed wiring. This will help to prevent accidental electrical fires.
Also, be sure to turn any holiday lights off when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed. Try using an outdoor timer or smart outlet to switch lights on and off!
We wish everyone a safe holiday season!
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