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ARCHIVED HOME SAFETY ARTICLES

These articles contain articles on safety, health and safety tips and information to keep you and your family safe at home. There is always a safe way to do things and we offer tips on how to avoid common problems and safety risks. For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.

 




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10 WAYS TO PREVENT HOME FIRES


  1. Kitchen Safety – Never leave a cooking pot or pan alone. Keep your cooking areas clean and not cluttered. Don’t cook when you’re sleepy or drowsy.
  2. Space Heaters - Keep all space heaters at least three (3) feet away from anything that can burn.
  3. Smoking – Never smoke in bed or when you’re sleepy. Use large ashtrays that won’t tip over. Soak butts and ashes before you dump them in a wastebasket.
  4. Matches and Lighters – Store matches and lighters locked up and high away from children.
  5. Electricity – Keep electrical cords out of walking areas and don’t risk breaking the wires by pinching them behind furniture or stretching them around corners.
  6. Candles – Keep candles away from anything that can burn. Put them out when you leave the room or go to sleep. Use a stable candle holder that cannot catch on fire.
  7. Appliances - Make sure protective water heater combustion chamber covers are in place. Pull the back service panel from the dryer cabinet and clean all the lint from the interior and around the drum. Clean built-up lint from the vent line. Replace vinyl vent lines with smooth-walled metal ducts. Mark a “combustible-free” zone 3 ft. away from your water heater with masking tape.
  8. Install Smoke Alarms – Put them on every floor of your home and near or inside all sleeping areas. Make sure everyone knows the sound of the alarm.
  9. Test the Alarm – Tests alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year, or sooner if the alarm ‘chirp’ tells you the battery is low. Replace any smoke alarm that is more that 10 years old.
  10. Plan Your Escape – Make a home fire escape plan and hold fire drills at least twice a year. Make sure everyone in your house knows what to do in a fire emergency.

The three major causes of fires in the home are cooking, heating equipment and careless smoking. Each year home fires cause thousands of deaths and injuries, and millions of dollars in property loss. Most of these home fires can be prevented. It’s important to do everything you can to stop fires before they start.

 

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AVOID DECORATING HAZARDS

It's the Holiday season and people are setting up lights, trees and decorations.
The lure of lights for many people, bigger and brighter is better. Many of us decorate inside and out and continue to add more and more lights as the years go on.

The importance of where and how you place the lights is more important than how many you use. You need to watch how many string lights you attach to each other. You should never string more than three sets of lights together. The use of multiple strings can overheat an outlet and cause a fire.

The next important reminder is to use only ONE power strip. Don't connect one power strip to another. Use a different power strip for your every day needs (TV, computer, etc.) and another power strip for the Christmas tree.

Always use outdoor lights for the outside decorations and inside lights for the inside decorations. Remember to check all your light strings for frays or breaks in the lines. Turn off lights when you leave home for more than a shor time (30 minutes).

When plugging outside lights into outlets, make sure they are being plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.

Candles are one of the most common causes of house fires over the Holidays ans well as throughout the year. Never leave candles unattended, and never put them somewhere where pets --especially cats--could knock them over. People should be careful with fireplace fires, too --and never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace because they are highly flammable and they could produce a flash fire.

Christmas trees are involved in some 300 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths and 30 injuries, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. When buying a tree, look for a "fire resistant" label. This doesn't mean the tree won't ignite, but it will burn slower. When purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it has the "UL" listing on the box, meaning it has been tested and is fire resistant.

Be mindful of where you place decorations and trees. Do not put them in the path of an exit or hallway. You need to keep these clear in the event of a fire or other hazard so family members have a clear route to the exits.

 

Article by Helen Neal

 

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BASIC FIRE ESCAPE PLANNING

Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.

  • Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.  Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. For easy planning, download NFPA's escape planning grid (PDF, 634 KB). This is a great way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.
  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
  • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbor's home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
  • If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Emergency release devices won't compromise your security - but they will increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
  • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people's homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don't have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend "sleepovers" at friends' homes. See NFPA's "Sleepover fire safety for kids" fact sheet.
  • Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings may be safer "defending in place."
  • Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Putting your plan to the test

  • Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
  • Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
  • It's important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
  • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don't want to have to search for it during a fire.
  • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
  • Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
  • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

 

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BEFORE, DURING & AFTER A FLOOD

Before a Flood
What would you do if your property were flooded? Are you prepared?

Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood.  Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future.  Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors including rainfall , topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.

Flood-hazard maps have been created to show the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type of flood insurance coverage you will need since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding.  The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.

In addition to having flood insurance, knowing following flood hazard terms will help you recognize and prepare for a flood.

To prepare for a flood, you should:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

During a Flood
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

After the Flood
Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:

  • Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organization.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
  • If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded.
    • Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
    • Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it's also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

Article from: http://www.ready.gov/floods

 

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CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARDS :

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.

This article taken with permission from: The National Fire Protection Agency http://www.nfpa.org/ 

 


CLEAN YOUR HOME SAFELY

Be smart about using household products!  Be smart when you use, store, and dispose of household products.

Did you know that the products you use for cleaning, carpentry, auto repair and gardening can contain ingredients that can harm you, your family and your environment?

These products may harm your children and pets, cause physical injury to sanitation workers if put out for regular trash pick-up, and contaminate septic tanks or pollute the ground water if poured down drains and toilets.
Here’s what you can do to safeguard your family, your home and your community.

READ the Label
Before you buy, always check the product labels. Look for labeling that reads “DANGER,” “WARNING,” “CAUTION,” “TOXIC,” “CORROSIVE,” “FLAMMABLE,” or “POISON.” These warnings tell you if the product is harmful to you, your family and the environment, and how to use, store and dispose of it safely.

Pay close attention to the labels on:

  • Drain Openers
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Automotive Oil and Fuel Additives
  • Paint Thinners, Strippers and Removers
  • Grease and Rust Removers
  • Glues
  • Bug and Weed Killers
  • Mold and Mildew Removers

KEEP products in their original containers and store them safely away from children and pets.

DISPOSE of household products safely
Many communities hold special collection days or have special drop-off sites for harmful household products.

For everyday tasks, try household products that are less harmful. Remember to follow the same rules about storing these products and never mix these products together.

  • Glass Cleaner: Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart of water.
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Use a toilet brush and baking soda or vinegar. Note: these clean but do not disinfect.
  • Furniture Polish: Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 pint of vegetable oil.
  • Rug Deodorizer: Sprinkle liberally with baking soda and vacuum after 15 minutes.
  • Plant Spray: Wipe leaves with mild soap and water and rinse.
  • Mothballs: Use cedar chips, lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, or white peppercorns.

Never…

  • Pour harmful household products down a sink, toilet or bathtub drain unless the products are made for that purpose
  • Pour products like used oil or bug killer on the ground or into storm drains
  • Store leftover products in food or beverage containers

 

 

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CLOSE THE DOOR ON CRIME

Burglars spot open garage doors and remove visible items in a matter of seconds. In many instances, the home owners are home and even outside when the burglary takes place.

Typical items taken are:

  • Tools
  • Lawn equipment
  • Sporting equipment
  • Or other valuables left inside vehicles parked in the garage.

If you notice your neighbors garage door open, please be a good neighbor and remind them of the importance of keeping their garage doors closed! Neighbors looking out for one another is the single most effective crime prevention tool.

When a police officer or deputy on patrol notices your garage door open and unattended, we may call your residence and ask for you to close it, for security reasons. Many of these requests are made during evening hours, when opportunistic criminal activity occurs most often.

If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood call your local law enforcement agency or 9-1-1 immediately for crimes in progress.

 

 

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CRIME PREVENTION TIPS

Every 15 minutes someone in Wisconsin is robbed. More than 30,000 home robberies occur every year.  With each break-in, valuables are lost and lives are disrupted.  Many victims will never feel safe in their homes again.  Serious break-ins may involve violence and even murder.  Most thieves are looking for an "easy mark."  You can discourage thieves with a few simple actions.

Tips on Home Security

  • Light the outside of your home to make it more visible to your neighbors. Outside motion detector lights can make it almost impossible for a burglar to enter without being seen.
  • Trim bushes near doors to reduce hiding places for burglars.
  • Install dead-bolt locks on all outside doors. Make sure you can unlock all doors from the inside without a key to allow a quick escape from a fire.
  • Install peepholes in all outside doors.
  • Use "Operation Identification". Contact your local police to borrow an engraver to mark stereos, computers, cameras, lawnmowers and tools. In Wisconsin you should write "WI" followed by your driver’s license number (if you have one). Put Operation I.D. stickers (from the police) on windows near your front and back doors. These stickers tell burglars that your things will be hard to sell.
  • Don’t keep expensive jewelry, collectibles, or large amounts of cash in your home.
  • Keep a list of your valuables and their serial numbers. A videotape, photograph, or sales receipts will help with insurance claims.
  • Install locks on windows. All sliding doors should have "ventilation locks". Screens and storms should be latched on the inside. Include locks on garage and basement windows.
  • Don’t advertise your absence. Never leave a message on your answering machine that says you are away for a few days or on vacation. Before you leave, set timers so that lights, TVs, and radios go on and off. Have someone pick up the mail, pick up newspapers, set out trash, mow the lawn or shovel snow.
  • Close your garage door. An empty garage says you’re not at home. Thieves can easily steal bikes, lawnmowers, snow blowers and other valuables. Burglars can close the garage door and take their time breaking into your home.  
  • Lock your car and keep valuables out of sight. Don’t store the title for your car in the glove compartment. You will need it to prove ownership if the car is stolen.
  • If possible, install a garage door opener with a light. A remote opener and a lighted garage will help you enter and leave your home safely. Test the door to make sure it reverses easily when it hits something.

Personal Protection

Any of us may be crime victims.  The most common crimes involve burglary and theft.  But reports of car jacking, child abductions, and assaults create fear among many Americans.
You can reduce your family’s risk by being aware and prepared.

Tips on Personal Safety  

  • Keep your doors locked at all times.
  • Never open your door to a stranger. Use your peephole to see who is at the door before you open it. Ask for identification before allowing a meter reader or repair person into your home.
  • Keep your car doors locked while you are driving and while the car is parked.
  • Don’t give your name, address, charge card number or Social Security number to an unknown caller. Never give your name or address on your message machine. Say something like: "I’m sorry we are unable to take your call now. Please leave a message at the tone."
  • Never surprise a burglar. If you see something that makes you think your home may have been robbed, do not go in. Go to a safe place and call the police. The burglar may still be around.
  • Don’t flash large amounts of cash or jewelry in public.
  • Be extra careful in areas with high crime rates, especially at night.
  • Tips to Protect Your Children from Crime:
    • Never leave small children alone in a public place. Have young children walk to school with a brother, sister or friend. Don’t allow young children to roam the neighborhood, trick or treat, or sell things door-to-door without an adult.
    • Tell children not to answer the door if they are alone.
    • Teach children telephone safety. Children who are alone should tell callers that their parents are unable to come to the telephone. Warn them not to give their name or address to an unknown caller.
    • Talk to children about crime and safety. Warn them not to talk to strangers. Remind them not to enter a car or home of a stranger.
    • Teach children how to use 911 or another emergency telephone number. Leave a number so that babysitters can reach someone in an emergency.
    • Teach children their home telephone number and address. Show them how to call home from a pay phone even without money.

Prepared by the
Wisconsin Dept of Health Services
Division of Public Health
Bureau of Environmental Health

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/hometips/dhp/crime.htm

 

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FLOOD SAFETY LIST

Residents of flood hazard areas can take several steps to safeguard their families and property when flooding occurs. These actions are also advised for other residents traveling in the County during times of flooding.

Steps to Take During Flood Conditions

  • Heed flood warnings.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. It can knock you off your feet.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area. The road or bridge may be washed out. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • If possible, cut off electricity, water, and gas supply. Stay away from power lines and gas leaks. Electrical current can travel through water and lead to electrocution.
  • Be wary of animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours.

Steps to Take Before Flood Conditions Occur

1. Purchase flood insurance
Standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover a property for flood damage. If your property is located in a flood hazard area, you should purchase a separate insurance policy for flood damage. You may want to include your personal property in the insurance policy. The average flood insurance premium in 2004 was $458 a year. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings and $250,000 per unit for multi-family residences. The limit for content coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters. Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the buildings and $500,000 for the contents. 
   
2.   Protect your property
Take steps in and around your home to safeguard against flooding. Elevate electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, and washer/dryers (or relocate to a location less likely to be flooded). Install sewer backup valves. Move furniture, TV, and other valuables to the upper floors of your home.
 
One way to keep water away is to regrade your lot, build a small floodwall or earthen berm, or sandbag. Another practical step is to raise the house above the flood levels. You may find more suggested ways to safeguard your property against floods at local libraries, or visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
 
3.  Be aware of requirements for substantial improvements
A substantial improvement is construction of an addition, alteration, repair of damage, or reconstruction project that is valued at 50% or more of the existing building. When building an addition in a flood hazard area, only the addition must be protected (adequately and safely flood proofed, elevated, etc.) if the cumulative construction costs are less than 50% of the existing building value. If the cumulative construction costs exceed the existing building value, then the entire building must be protected.

4.   Be sure drainage systems are working
Maintenance of drainage systems is critical. Dumping of debris in ditches and streams can partially or completely obstruct the free flow of water. This can cause water to back up and overflow onto roads and yards.

 

 

Download this Flood Safety Check List

 

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FURNACE SAFETY TIPS

It’s only a few weeks until November and the average high is 46 degrees and the average low is 31 degrees.  If you haven’t done so already, you need to have your furnace checked.  Here are some safety tips for you to stay warm in the coming months.

If you live in a cold part of the United States, you probably use a furnace to stay warm during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, too many people are unaware of the precautions that they need to take to safely operate their furnaces year in and year out. In fact, the Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that more than 8,000 Americans annually require emergency treatment for injuries associated with furnaces.

To help you avoid problems, here are a few precautions that you should take when using your furnace:

  • Move all flammable materials a safe distance away from the furnace, including things like papers, sawdust, old rags, wood scraps and liquids such as gasoline and kerosene. As an extra precaution, since vapors from flammable liquids easily ignite, you should store these liquids in containers that are tightly sealed.
  • Change or clean your furnace filter every month during the winter, or more often if you run your furnace a lot, smoke or have pets.
  • Have a professional inspect your furnace every year to make sure it’s working well and getting enough fresh air. Ensuring your furnace gets enough air will prevent it from burning improperly, which can end up reducing the oxygen in your home to dangerously low level.
  • Have a professional inspect your chimney and flue at least once a year and have them cleaned if necessary. Carbon monoxide levels in your home can become dangerous if smoke can’t escape a clogged chimney or flue. Additionally, built-up soot, which is highly flammable, can easily ignite and can send a fireball of flame from your furnace into your house.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Make sure to periodically test the alarms and change the batteries every year or more often if needed.

Article written by: Illinois Department of Public Health, “Weathering Winter.”

http://www.sparkenergy.com/blog/2012/february/furnace-safety-tips/

 

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GET AN EMERGENCY KIT

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid   Fema Link - Assemble a disaster supplies kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

 

 

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GRILLING SAFETY

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
    • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
    • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers' instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

 

 

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HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST

Make your family safer, step-by-step

  • Sound the Alarm: Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas. If already installed, test them! Tip: Replace the batteries every daylight-saving time change.
  • Avoid Overload: Check for overloaded extension cords – usage should not exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Don’t Get Tippy: If young children are in the home, bookshelves and other furniture should be firmly secured with wall brackets to prevent tipping.
  • Paint Safe: Check walls for loose paint. If re-painting, do so in a well-ventilated area and consider VOC-free paint.
  • Childproof, Childproof, Childproof: Check your local library or online for complete lists of childproofing suggestions and see our Virtual Home Safety Tour for more ideas. Areas of particular danger include outlets, appliances, electronics, stairs and windows.
  • Cover Outlets: Cover all unused outlets to prevent children from sticking a finger in the socket.
  • Watch Cord Placement: Extension cords should not be placed under rugs or heavy furniture, tacked up or coiled while in use.
  • Get Grounded: All major appliances should be grounded. Be sure to check your ground fault circuit interrupters regularly.
  • Plan Your Escape: Practice a fire escape plan with your family where you identify two exits for every room and what to do with young children.
  • Give Your Air Heater Some Space: All air heaters should be placed at least three feet from beds, curtains or anything flammable.
  • Keep Extinguishers Handy: Place all-purpose fire extinguishers in key locations in your home – the kitchen, bedroom and basement. Be sure to check expiration dates regularly and know how to use them safely.
  • Create a Safe Exit: In addition to alarms and extinguishers, consider an escape ladder if your home has two floors. Keep emergency numbers and contacts readily available by the phone.
  • Unplug Appliances: Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use and store them out of reach.
  • Go New in the Nursery: Check that all painted cribs, bassinettes and high chairs were made after 1978 to avoid potential lead paint poisoning.
  • Cool Your Jets: Set your water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid potential burns and to save energy.
  • Put Away Medications: Take medications and medical supplies out of your purse, pockets and drawers, and put them in a cabinet with a child safety lock.
  • Look for UL: The UL Mark appears on products that have been tested, verified and inspected for safety. Make sure to look for it to keep your holidays safe and bright

 

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HOME SAFETY TIPS

Home safety can encompass many things, but it does not have to be overwhelming.  By just following these simple suggestions, you should be able to keep your family safe.  Today, there are several technical and common sense ways to make your home safe and keep intruders out.  Here are just a few that can protect you and your family in the face of danger.

  • Sound the Alarm: Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas. If already installed, test them! Tip: Replace the batteries every daylight-saving time change.
  • Avoid Overload: Check for overloaded extension cords – usage should not exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Don’t Get Tippy: If young children are in the home, bookshelves and other furniture should be firmly secured with wall brackets to prevent tipping.
  • Paint Safe: Check walls for loose paint. If re-painting, do so in a well-ventilated area and consider VOC-free paint.
  • Childproof, Childproof, Childproof: Check your local library or online for complete lists of childproofing suggestions for more ideas. Areas of particular danger include outlets, appliances, electronics, stairs and windows.
  • Cover Outlets: Cover all unused outlets to prevent children from sticking a finger in the socket.
  • Watch Cord Placement: Extension cords should not be placed under rugs or heavy furniture, tacked up or coiled while in use.
  • Get Grounded: All major appliances should be grounded. Be sure to check your ground fault circuit interrupters regularly.
  • Plan Your Escape: Practice a fire escape plan with your family where you identify two exits for every room and what to do with young children.
  • Give Your Air Heater Some Space: All air heaters should be placed at least three feet from beds, curtains or anything flammable.
  • Keep Extinguishers Handy: Place all-purpose fire extinguishers in key locations in your home – the kitchen, bedroom and basement. Be sure to check expiration dates regularly and know how to use them safely.
  • Create a Safe Exit: In addition to alarms and extinguishers, consider an escape ladder if your home has two floors. Keep emergency numbers and contacts readily available by the phone.
  • Unplug Appliances: Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use and store them out of reach.
  • Go New in the Nursery: Check that all painted cribs, bassinettes and high chairs were made after 1978 to avoid potential lead paint poisoning.
  • Cool Your Jets: Set your water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid potential burns and to save energy.
  • Put Away Medications: Take medications and medical supplies out of your purse, pockets and drawers, and put them in a cabinet with a child safety lock.
  • Look for UL: The UL Mark appears on products that have been tested, verified and inspected for safety. Make sure to look for it to keep your holidays safe and bright

 

Article from: http://www.safetyathome.com/home-safety/

 

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HOME SECURITY TIPS

Identify Entry Points

Before you make security improvements, identify those entry points most likely to be used by a burglar. You can do this by answering the following questions:

  • Which entrances are hidden/out of view from my neighbors?
  • If I am locked out of my house, where could I get in without too much difficulty? Every door/window you list in response to these questions should be a number one priority.

Basic Security Improvements

Other security improvements should follow, keeping in mind that your goal is to make it difficult for a burglar by forcing them to take more time and to make more noise!

  • Exterior doors should be strong enough to withstand excessive force.
  • All exterior doors should be secured with a deadbolt lock that has a minimum one-inch throw.
  • All strike plates and frames for exterior doors should be anchored to the home's main construction.
  • All exterior doors should fit snugly against the frame and all frames should be free of warping, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear.
  • Solid core wood, metal or other reinforced doors, Reinforced door jams or jam braces.
  • Three-inch screws, heavy-duty strike plates and tamper proof hinges.
  • The main entrance door should have a doorwide-angle (180 degree)viewer/peephole.
  • Sliding glass doors and windows should be secure against forcing the locks or from being lifted completely out of the frame.
  • High-risk windows (basement, garage, ground-level, partially or totally secluded, latched, etc.) should be secured sufficiently enough to discourage or impede possible intrusion.
  • Double-hung windows should be secured with pins or extra locks to discourage prying.
  • Trees and shrubs should be trimmed to allow visibility along the perimeter (particularly entries) of the house.
  • Timers (both interior and exterior) should be installed to activate lights in your absence
  • All entrances (doors and windows) to your home should be well lit at night.
  • Your address should be posted on your house and be clearly visible from the street both night and day.
  • Safety glass or security film on vulnerable windows.
  • Motion sensor lighting, specifically directed and focused on entry points and vulnerable areas, no flood lighting and beware of light trespass.

Security improvements should not be made at the expense of fire safety! Remember to allow at least one door or window per room as a fire escape - meaning that exit via the door window can be made quickly and easily. There should also be fire escape routes established for your household. Family members should know where these are and they should be practiced periodically, especially if there are young children at home.

 

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HOME SECURITY CHECKLIST

Use this as a guide as you check your home for safety measures. Boxes marked? No? Indicate areas where you could take action to improve your home’s security. These are just some steps that you can take to decrease the likelihood that you or your home is targeted for a crime.

Exterior Doors:

Yes

No

All doors are locked at night and every time we leave the house - even if it's just for a few minutes.    
Doors are solid hardwood or metal-clad.    
Doors feature wide-angle peepholes at heights everyone can use.    
If there are glass panels in or near our doors, they are reinforced in some way so that they cannot be shattered.    
All entryways have a working, keyed entry lock and sturdy deadbolt lock installed into the frame of the door.    
Spare keys are kept with a trusted neighbor, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox.    
Garage and Sliding Door:

Yes

No

The door leading into the home from the garage is solid wood or metal-clad and protected with a quality keyed door lock and deadbolt.    
The overhead garage door has a lock so that we do not rely solely on the automatic garage door opener to provide security.    
Garage doors are all locked when leaving the house.    
The sliding glass door has a strong, working key lock.    
A dowel or a pin to secure the sliding glass door has been installed to prevent the door from being shoved aside or lifted off the track.    
The sliding glass door is locked every night and each time we leave the house.    
Protecting Windows:

Yes

No

Every window in the home has a working key lock or is securely pinned.    
Windows are always locked, even when they are opened a few inches for ventilation.    
Outdoor Security:

Yes

No

Shrubs / bushes are trimmed to so there is no place for someone to hide.    
There are no dark areas around our house, garage, or yard at night that would hide prowlers.    
Every outside door has a bright, working light to illuminate visitors.    
Floodlights are used appropriately to ensure effective illumination.    
Outdoor lights are on in the evening? Whether someone is at home or not; or a photocell or motion-sensitive lighting system has been installed.    
Our house number is clearly displayed so police and other emergency vehicles can find the house quickly.    
Security When Away From Home:

Yes

No

At least two light timers have been set to turn the lights on and off in a logical sequence when we are away from home for an extended time period.    
The motion detector or other alarm system (if we have one) has been activated when we leave home.    
Mail and newspaper deliveries have been stopped or arrangements for a neighbor/friend to pick them up have been made when we go away from home for a period of time.    
A neighbor has been asked to tend the yard and watch our home when we are away.    
Outdoor Valuables and Personal Property:

Yes

No

Gate latches, garage doors, and shed doors are all locked with high-security, laminated padlocks.    
Gate latches, garage doors, and shed doors are locked after every use.    
Grills, lawn mowers, and other valuables are stored in a locked garage or shed, or if left out in the open, are hidden from view with a tarp and securely locked to a stationary point.    
Every bicycle is secured with a U-bar lock or quality padlock and chain.    
Bikes are always locked, even if we leave them for just a minute.    
Firearms are stored unloaded and locked in storage boxes and secured with trigger guard locks.    
Valuable items, such as television, stereos, and computers have been inscribed with identifying number approved by local police.    
Our home inventory is up-to-date and includes pictures. A complete copy is kept somewhere out of the house.    

www.dps.mo.gov/

Also found at: www.ncpc.org

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ICE DAMS & ATTIC CONDENSATION

While stopping a leak or repairing a hose down in the basement might be fairly straightforward, ice dams and attic condensation, two forms of water damage typical to cold climate homes, are a little more complicated and a little trickier to fix. And since many homeowners aren't frequent visitors to their own attics in the frigid winter months, water damage on the top floor might catch you off guard.

What are ice dams? What causes attic condensation? And if you’ve got either, what can you do?

Ice Dams
When the temperature in your attic is above freezing, snow on the roof will likely melt. When the snowmelt runs down the roof and hits the colder eaves, it refreezes, especially if the temperature drops again.
If this cycle repeats over several days, the freezing snowmelt builds up and forms a dam of ice, behind which water pools up into large puddles, or "ponds". The ponding water can then back up under the roof covering and leak into the attic or along exterior walls.

The right weather conditions for ice dams are usually when outside air temperatures are in the low 20s (°F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof.

Attic Condensation
Condensation of water vapor on cold surfaces in attics can cause wood to rot, which can lead to costly repairs. Condensation typically occurs when warm, moist air migrates into the attic from living spaces below. Research indicates unusually high humidity in the home's living spaces is strongly associated with attic condensation problems.

Prevention
Building codes have some requirements that attempt to prevent the problems of ice dams and attic condensation. But codes don’t address all the issues, and many houses are built without following building codes. First and foremost, it’s your builder or designer's job to understand the relationship of humidity and air movement when designing and constructing the house so these problems don't occur.

Nevertheless, there's more you can do. Here are a few simple steps that can help prevent ice dams and condensation in your attic:

  • Prevent warm, moist downstairs air from infiltrating the attic by appropriately insulating your attic’s floor and using a dehumidifier to control water vapor.
  • Seal all openings that would allow vapor to rise into the attic. Avoid designing ceiling mounted fixtures below the attic that create the need for holes in the drywall or plaster ceiling. If this cannot be done, seal around all penetrations to make them airtight. Ceiling-mounted light fixtures and ceiling fans have electrical junction boxes mounted flush in the ceiling – these often have a number of holes in them that need to be sealed.
  • Research shows keeping the attic air temperature below freezing when the outside air temperature is in the low 20s can reduce the occurrence of ice dams.
  • Provide good attic ventilation to replace warm air in the attic with cold outside air.
  • Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.

What Not To Do
While it might be tempting to try a quick-fix to break up that ice dam, don’t get too eager; not only is it dangerous on your roof, but you can also cause a lot of damage, especially in the colder months. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do not routinely remove snow from the roof or attempt to “chip away” the ice of an ice dam. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
  • Do not install large mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics, especially in cold climates. Not only do they present an unwelcome fire hazard, but they’ll also increase the temperature in your attic.
  • Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow on a roof. These chemicals are very corrosive and can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts, and flashings. Runoff that contains high concentrations of these chemicals can damage nearby grass and plants.
  • Keeping the gutters clean of leaves will not necessarily prevent ice dams. However, clean gutters can help keep them from overflowing and spilling rainwater next to the house.

 

For more information check out this website:  http://www.preventicedams.org/

 

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LOCK IT OR LOSE IT

This is a mindset all law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. would like the public to adopt.

The point that needs to be made is simple: take valuable possessions out of your vehicle or put them out-of-sight and the lock your vehicle.

The idea of living in a “safe” neighborhood is a myth.  There are no safe neighborhoods.  You are inviting a break-in if you leave your keys, money, iPhones, etc in plain sight in your vehicle.  It does not always matter if the vehicle is locked or not.  If it is something someone wants, they will find a way to get it. 

If you don’t regularly lock your vehicle, start now.  Many insurance companies will not pay for losses if it can be proven (no evidence of physical break-in) that your car was not locked when the theft occurred. 

Even on hot days, remember to have your windows closed, including your roof vents and lock your vehicle.  Any slight opening in a window is an invitation to a thief for easy pickings.

If you do see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1.  Try to get a good description of the person committing the crime.  Usually this would include their clothing, hair color, height, color or make of their vehicle and in which direction they left. 

The majority of crimes are those of opportunity.  Someone is walking by a car or home and they notice something of value.  If they also check further and find the vehicle or home is unlocked, it makes it even easier.

Don’t become a victim of crime.  Lock your windows and doors and keep your valuables hidden.

 

Written by: Helen Neal
HLN Web Designs

 

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REPORT SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIORS

Sometimes the mundane may not look suspicious, however many times it can be a warning. There have been several burglaries in our county and it took mindful neighbors to report possible suspects. Follow these tips and stay safe.

Most Obvious Things to Watch For

  • A stranger entering your neighbor's house or apartment when it is unoccupied.
  • A scream heard anywhere may indicate a robbery or sexual assault.
  • Offers of merchandise at ridiculously low prices could mean stolen property.
  • Anyone removing accessories, license plates, or gasoline from a car.
  • Anyone peering into parked cars to steal or take valuables left out in the car.
  • Persons entering or leaving a business place after hours or loitering outside.
  • The sound of breaking glass or any other loud explosive noises could mean an accident, house break-in, or vandalism.
  • Persons loitering around schools, parks, secluded areas or in the neighborhood could be sex offenders.
  • Not every stranger who comes into your neighborhood is a criminal. There are perfectly legitimate door-to-door sales, repairmen, and servicemen around your neighborhood all the time. But criminals do take advantage of this by assuming the guise of these legitimate people. After all, if a criminal looked like a criminal no one would have any trouble spotting him.

Suspicious Actions and What They Might Mean

  • If someone is going door-to-door in your neighborhood, tries a door to see if it is locked and/or goes into a back yard, they could be a burglar.
  • Anyone forcing entrance into or tampering with a residence, a business or vehicle is suspicious anytime, anywhere.
  • A person running, especially if carrying something of value and at an unusual hour, is very suspicious and could be leaving the scene of a crime.
  • A person exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms may be injured, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise needing medical or psychiatric assistance.
  • Much human traffic to and from a certain residence is not suspicious unless it occurs on a daily basis, especially during late or unusual hours. It could possibly be the scene of vice activities or a "fence" operation.

If you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number.  If there is a crime in progress, call 9-1-1.  Here is a link to Washington County’s non-emergency law enforcement agency numbers on our Law Enforcement Agency Page.

Also look at the current burglaries and events leading up to them in our press release dated August 22, 2013.

 

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SUMMER YARD SAFETY

Lawn Mowers:

  • Read the owner's manual thoroughly before operating the mower.
  • Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly.
  • Always start the mower outdoors. Never operate the mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.
  • Do not operate your electrically powered lawn mower on wet grass.
  • Make sure all safety guards are in place and keep the mower's blades sharp. If you hit a foreign object or have a mower malfunction, turn off the mower and disconnect the power cord before inspecting for damage.
  • Keep your hands and feet away from the mower's blades. Never reach under the mower for any reason while the mower is operating and make all adjustments with the motor off.
  • Safe footwear is important, especially with walk-behind mowers.


Lawn and Garden Tools:

  • Always look for the UL listing mark before purchasing a power tool, garden appliance or any other electrical product. The UL listing mark on a product means that representative samples of that product have been tested to stringent safety standards with regard to fire, electric shock and related safety hazards.
  • Before using any appliance or tool, read and follow the manufacturer's use and care instructions.
  • Before each use, inspect tools for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. If the product is damaged, don't use it or attempt to repair it yourself. Return the product or have a qualified repair shop examine it.
  • Always wear proper attire. Keep your clothing, hands and feet away from cutting blades at all times. Never wear jewelry when working with tools.
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Pay attention to warning markings. Don't allow tools to get wet unless they are labeled "immersible." When using tools outside, make sure they are appropriate for outdoor use.

 

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TIPS TO MAKING A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN

Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Create a family disaster plan including a communication plan, disaster supplies kit, and an evacuation plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

  • Find out what could happen to you - Contact your American Red Cross chapter or local emergency management office — be prepared to take notes:
  • Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.
  • Learn about your community’s warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.
  • Ask about animal care after disaster. Animals other than service animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters.
  • Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
  • Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center, and other places where your family spends time.
  • Create a disaster plan

Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.  Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.

Pick two places to meet:

  • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
  • Outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.

Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Families should develop different methods for communicating during emergency situations and share their plans beforehand with all those who would be worried about their welfare. Options for remaining in contact with family and friends if a disaster strikes include:

  • Phone contact with a designated family member or friend who is unlikely to be affected by the same disaster.
  • Email notification via a family distribution list.
  • Registration on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website.
  • Use of the toll-free Contact Loved Ones voice messaging service (1-866-78-CONTACT).
  • Use of the US Postal Service change of address forms when it becomes necessary to leave home for an extended period of time, thus ensuring that mail will be redirected to a current address.
  • Complete this checklist
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher, and show them where it’s kept.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Conduct a home hazard hunt.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supplies kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Practice your plan
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

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PREVENT SLIPS & FALLS THIS WINTER

Slips and falls can be costly accidents when you consider human suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and public good will. When snow and ice accumulates on walking surfaces, the potential for slips and falls greatly increases. Unsafe conditions are accidents waiting to happen. The right attitudes and actions can prevent and mitigate many of these accidents.

Care about safety - what YOU can do personally

  • Wear proper footwear, smooth leather soles are a no-no.
  • Wear boots with good treads and carry your shoes into the office.
  • Try to stick to pathways that are well maintained. Don't take shortcuts.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Don't hurry and be observant of conditions.
  • Park your wet boots where puddles from melting snow won't create hazards for others.
  • Promptly report slippery conditions to your supervisor.
  • Immediately report falls to your supervisor.

Article from: http://www.maine.gov/bgs/riskmanage/tipofthemonth/tip6.htm

 


SAFETY CHECKLIST FOR APARTMENTS

How Safe is Your Apartment and Building?
Don’t be so excited about decorating your bedroom and getting your Internet hooked up that you forget about safety. Apartments.com wants to make sure you’re taken care of and while we can’t replace your mothers (sigh), we can offer some friendly advice to make your apartment a place where you’ll feel safe and sound.

Our biggest tip is to purchase renter’s insurance to protect your valuables. Even with insurance you still need to take steps to protect yourself. Here are some other easy ways to make you, your apartment and your belongings much safer.

Do…

  • Write only your last name or initials on your mailbox.
  • Although you may have to pay a small fee, it’s a good idea to have an unlisted phone number for safety reasons. Having an unlisted number will also cut down on solicitation calls.
  • Make sure the locks on all doors leading into your apartment have been changed since the last tenant was living there. You may need to make copies of your keys for roommates but most apartment owners forbid copies made for anyone not living in the apartment. This includes your best friend, boy/girlfriend and parents. For safety reasons, keep copies of keys in your hands only.
  • Apartment doors should all have peephole viewers. If you don’t have one, ask your landlord to install one.
  • On the elevator, avoid riding alone with a stranger. If you get stuck with someone you do not know, stand near the control panel so you can exit in an emergency or if the stranger makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
  • Stay alert when entering your apartment. Don’t talk on your cell phone or look preoccupied when walking toward your building. Criminals look for a weak target and are more likely to pass up someone who appears focused, aware and strong.
  • Report bad lighting or overgrown shrubbery to your landlord. You are never being too picky when it comes to your safety.
  • Inventory the description, serial number and cost of your valuables. Keep a copy of your records online, in a fire-proof locked box or in a safe deposit box in a bank. Take pictures of your most valuable items and attach those to your receipts to make any insurance claims run as smoothly as possible.
  • Keep a broom handle or other long stick in the track of sliding glass doors. This may deter a break in.
  • Purchase light timers and set them so that your lights turn on when you’re away from home in the evening.
  • Take in your newspaper and packages on a daily basis.

 


TOP TEN HOME SAFETY TIPS

  • Sound the Alarm: Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas. If already installed, test them! Tip: Replace the batteries every daylight-saving time change.
  • Avoid Overload: Check for overloaded extension cords – usage should not exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Don’t Get Tippy: If young children are in the home, bookshelves and other furniture should be firmly secured with wall brackets to prevent tipping.
  • Paint Safe: Check walls for loose paint. If re-painting, do so in a well-ventilated area and consider VOC-free paint.
  • Childproof, Childproof, Childproof: Check your local library or online for complete lists of childproofing suggestions and see our Virtual Home Safety Tour for more ideas. Areas of particular danger include outlets, appliances, electronics, stairs and windows.
  • Cover Outlets: Cover all unused outlets to prevent children from sticking a finger in the socket.
  • Watch Cord Placement: Extension cords should not be placed under rugs or heavy furniture, tacked up or coiled while in use.
  • Get Grounded: All major appliances should be grounded. Be sure to check your ground fault circuit interrupters regularly.
  • Plan Your Escape: Practice a fire escape plan with your family where you identify two exits for every room and what to do with young children.
  • Give Your Air Heater Some Space: All air heaters should be placed at least three feet from beds, curtains or anything flammable.
  • Keep Extinguishers Handy: Place all-purpose fire extinguishers in key locations in your home – the kitchen, bedroom and basement. Be sure to check expiration dates regularly and know how to use them safely.
  • Create a Safe Exit: In addition to alarms and extinguishers, consider an escape ladder if your home has two floors. Keep emergency numbers and contacts readily available by the phone.
  • Unplug Appliances: Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use and store them out of reach.
  • Go New in the Nursery: Check that all painted cribs, bassinettes and high chairs were made after 1978 to avoid potential lead paint poisoning.
  • Cool Your Jets: Set your water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid potential burns and to save energy.
  • Put Away Medications: Take medications and medical supplies out of your purse, pockets and drawers, and put them in a cabinet with a child safety lock.
  • Look for UL: The UL Mark appears on products that have been tested, verified and inspected for safety. Make sure to look for it to keep your holidays safe and bright.

 

 

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TORNADO SAFETY

Prevention and practice before the storm:

  • At home, have a family tornado plan in place, based on the kind of dwelling you live in and the safety tips below.
  • Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds, and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.
  • Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster.
  • Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds' notice.
  • Turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.

Know the signs of a tornado: Weather forecasting science is not perfect and some tornadoes do occur without a tornado warning. There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
  • Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  • Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, and maybe a tornado.
  • Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

WHAT TO DO...

  • In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
  • In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
  • In an office building, hospital, nursing or home: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
  • In a mobile home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.
  • At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
  • In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. [It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.] Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
  • In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
  • In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

AFTER THE TORNADO...
Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Carefully render aid to those who are injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html

 


 

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. Last Revised:8/2014