Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prevent Christmas Tree Fires

Christmas tree fires are fairly common. Many times it can not only injure your family, but burn your house down in the process. Take precautions to keep your home and loved ones safe. Nothing beats the smell, tradition, and grandeur of a real tree for Christmas. Don't make it a Christmas of tragedy.

It might seem too logical, but the first thing to do is to pick as fresh of a tree as possible. Going to a tree farm and cutting one down is as fresh as you can get. If you can't do that, choose the freshest tree on the lot. Look for ones that do not have easily falling or brown needles. Brown needles are a dead give away. The fresher your tree is, the better.

Put your Christmas tree in a big pot of water.. The bigger, the better. Keep it watered constantly. Check it daily. You never want the reservoir to go low. This is the number one thing you can do to keep your tree fresh and almost fire resistant.

Watch those decorations. They need to be fireproof. Check the boxes and labels. Buy lights that do not get hot enough to start a fire. Check how many strings you can connect together, and maybe do one less than that. Old fashioned screw in bulbs can get hot, and the metal screw in can touch a branch. Everything you put on the tree should be flame retardant.

(It goes without saying that at this point you should check all fire alarms and make sure they are working!)

Keep pets and kids from being able to knock the tree over.

Don't put the tree in an area that could be blocking an escape route in a house fire.

Never leave the tree lights going when you leave the house or go to bed.

Keep your Christmas tree as far away from heaters, candles, and fireplaces as possible. Three feet or more. To be safe, more than three feet.

It may seem bad, but as soon as you see needles dropping off regularly, the tree is past its prime. It needs to be tossed out.

Never burn your tree in your yard or fireplace. The sap ignites like a fireball! Dispose of it properly.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keep Your Home Safe from a Wildfire

If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, or even one that is nearby, you are the first line of defense to keep your house safe. Here are some tips to landscape your house for fire prevention.

Watch where you park your car. Don't park over dry grass or brush. The underside of your vehicle can get very hot, with a potential to touch off a fire.

Mowing, edging, and other gasoline power tools may spark a fire. Be sure they all have spark arresters. Also, just like the cars, be very careful when using them on dry grass or brush. If you are using metal blades, be careful of striking rocks and creating sparks.

Don't plant trees and other plants that have a lot of sap. Choose the ones that have a high moisture content as ground covers.

Here are some good fire-resistant ground covers: strawberry, ice plant, rock rose.

Here are some good fire-resistant shrubs: honeysuckle, sage, lavender.

Fire-resistant trees: maple, poplar. Choose a hardwood.

Do not plant anything near or touching a wooden deck.

If you can, use other material other than wood for making structures like porches, decks, and even planters. Using brick and stone is a wise choice when possible.

You can create fire-breaks around your home using pebbles, rocks, gravel, or even stepping stones.

Your roof may be made of fire-resistant materials. But what about the stuff that accumulates on it and the gutters? Leaves and branches are flammable. Clear these areas often.