The holidays are just around the corner in Calgary, and nobody wants an accident to dampen their festive spirits. Yet, statistics show that injuries tend to spike around the holiday season, since homes are hosting increased levels of activity and decorations, fireplaces and other cozy tidings of goodwill and happiness pose some safety risks to the unwary.
Fireplace, Fire Safety and Home Insurance in Calgary
Fireplaces add an ambient touch to any winter gathering, but if they’re left unattended or handled improperly, they can quickly turn dangerous. Be sure to follow these important fireplace safety tips:
- Never use gasoline or other combustible liquids to start an indoor fire
- Avoid placing Christmas stockings on the mantelpiece near an active fireplace
- Always use a screen to protect a live fire
- Do not discard gift wrapping or other paper products in your indoor fireplace; they burn very quickly, and the flames can billow, creating the potential for it to spread
- Leave fire ashes or embers in the fireplace, or collect them in a metal can and dispose of them outdoors
- Only use properly seasoned wood in your fireplace, and ensure that it is dry before use
Fire risks go beyond what’s in the hearth; you should also be careful when it comes to holiday decorations. Here are some sensible ways to reduce your risk when it comes to trees, ornaments and Christmas lights:
- If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it’s labelled as “fire resistant”
- Avoid positioning Christmas trees, real or artificial, within 8 to 10 feet of a fireplace
- Carefully check Christmas lights for fire hazards: frayed cords, loose connections, damaged or worn sockets and bare wires are all warning signs
- Never use live candles to decorate a Christmas tree
- If you use live candles anywhere else in your home, don’t leave them unattended and be sure to extinguish them before leaving the house or going to sleep
Maintaining Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Regardless of whether or not you have a fireplace, you should always test your smoke detector before the holiday season. In fact, Calgary experts suggest testing them monthly throughout the year, ensuring they are properly operational and that batteries are still fresh.
Carbon monoxide detectors are extremely important in the winter, when combustion appliances like furnaces and stoves are working overtime and the windows are usually closed. If you don’t have one, get one — and if you do have one, test it just as you would your smoke detector to make sure it’s working properly. Carbon monoxide poses very serious health risks, and you shouldn’t take any chances.
Outdoor Winter Safety
Because most home insurance policies provide limited levels of personal injury and personal property protection, you should also understand how to protect yourself from potential pitfalls related to the outdoors.
If you enjoy ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, hockey or any other outdoor winter sport, always use full, proper safety equipment. Avoid dangers like skating on lakes that may not be fully frozen, or outdoor ice rinks when the temperature is near the freezing mark.
Do not take risks near dusk. Twilight arrives early in the winter, and this can create extremely dangerous conditions on ski slopes, snowboarding hills and even local tobogganing hotspots. Hitting a tree at high speed can be fatal. The safest thing to do is head home at sunset.
Road accidents are quite common during the winter months, especially around the holiday season when icy and snowy conditions combine with high traffic volumes to pose dangers. Be safe this winter by reducing your speed, increasing your following distance, activating your headlights at all times and avoiding the roads during periods of bad weather.
Finally, always wear a helmet if your activity poses any risk of head impact. Head injuries that may not initially seem serious can become life-threatening, and concussions can have health consequences that linger for weeks or months.
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