Holiday Candle Safety

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  • Consider using battery-operated or electric flameless candles and fragrance warmers, which can look, smell and feel like real candles – without the flame.
  • If you do use candles, ensure they are in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Extinguish candles after
    use and before going to bed.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Set a good example by using matches, lighters and fire carefully.
  • Children should never be allowed to play with matches, lighters or candles.
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire.
  • Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting.
  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree.
  • When using in home worship, don’t place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, or pass handheld candles from one person to another. To lower the risk of fire, candles should be used by only a few designated adults.
  • And NEVER leave burning candles unattended!

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Candle Fire Safety.” For more information, please visit http://www.fema.gov.

Other Helpful Thanksgiving Tips

Another helpful step is to download the Red Cross First Aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in someone’s hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the official Red Cross First Aid app gives instant access to the information needed to handle the most common first aid emergencies. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to know first aid.

House fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. To learn how to prevent a fire in the home and how to keep members of the household safe, people can take our Fire Safety Quiz and download The Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “  Cooking Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Chefs.” For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

Causes and Circumstances of Home Candle Fires

  • candle_modified_shutterstock_92009261On average, 42 home candle fires are reported every day.
  • More than half of all candle fires start wh
    en something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle.
  • In one-fifth (20%) of candle fires, the candles are unattended or abandoned.
  • Over one-third (36%) of home candle fires begin in the bedroom.
  • Falling asleep is a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 36% of the associated deaths.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.  In December, 13% of home candle fires begin with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
  • One-half of home candle fire deaths occur between Midnight and 6 am.
  • Young children and older adults have the highest death risk from candle fires.
  • The risk of fatal candle fires appears higher when candles are used for light.

Sources: NFIRS, NFPA

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Candle Fire Safety.” For more information, please visit www.fema.gov.

Cooking Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Chefs

thanksgiving_shutterstock_89998036Thanksgiving is all about food and family – turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and family time. However, preparing holiday goodies can lead to disaster – the kitchen is the setting of more fires than any other room in the house, and cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home. The American Red Cross has safety steps to use while preparing the Thanksgiving feast.

The cooks should start by not wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove. Other safety steps include:

  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “  Cooking Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Chefs.” For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

Product Safety Tips for Turkey Fryers

Turkey fryers

UL considers turkey fryers to be dangerous to use presenting numerous safety hazards to consumers. “We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related with turkey fryer use,” says John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager of UL. “Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks. And, as a result of these tests, UL has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with our trusted UL Mark.”

Turkey fryer hazards

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.
  • With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

turkey_fryer_shutterstock_757893Important safety information

If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, please use the following tips.

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Product Safety Tips.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

 

10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor

1. Study up — Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

2. Ask for referrals — Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.

3. Call references — Ask contractors for customer references and call them. Ask about the contractor’s installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.

4. Find special offers — A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search atwww.energystar.gov.

5. Look for ENERGY STAR — ENERGY STAR qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

6. Expect a home evaluation — The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers specifications.

7. Get written, itemized estimates — When comparing contractors’ proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

8. Get it in ink — Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It’ll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

9. Pass it on — Tell friends and family about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

10. Get the ENERGY STAR Guide — For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy Efficient Cooling and Heating PDF (2.6 MB) en espanol — Guía para la Eficiencia de Energía en la Calefacción y el Aire Acondicionado PDF (2.5MB) or 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor.” For more information, please visit www.energystar.gov.

Have a Big Picture Disaster Preparedness Plan

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Approximately 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster (source).  While the value of our business data is incalculable, protecting your business and your employees by ensuring you are prepared for the eventuality of a natural or man-made disaster is equally critical. Create a plan of action to lessen the impact of disasters, and a disaster recovery plan to ensure you are up and ready for business sooner.

Check out SBA’s guides, tools and templates to help you prepare and improve your chances of recovering quickly should the worst happen – Small Business Emergency Preparedness Guide. You can also visit the SBA Learning Center for online courses, webinars and other tips to help you with your disaster planning.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Drowsy Driving on the Job

truck_twilight_shutterstock_63070159Fatigued or drowsy driving may be involved in more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths.  Sadly, these numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg since these crashes are seriously under-reported.  These days, its more important than ever for employees to be well rested, alert and sober on the road so that they are in a position to defend themselves from drivers who do not make the same choice.  Train employees to make smart decisions when they are behind the wheel, on and off the job.

As a driver, your number one responsibility is to get yourself and your passengers to your destination safely.  When behind the wheel, you always need to be alert and focused.  At 55 mph, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in 3.7 seconds.  This is no time for a “mini” snooze.  Being an attentive driver, and looking out for the driver who isn’t, is increasingly important.  Drive focused.  Stay Safe.

Do you know when your driving drowsy? Some warning signs include:

  • You can’t remember the last few miles driven.
  • You hit a rumble strip or drift from your lane.
  • Your thoughts are wandering and disconnected.exhausted_driver_shutterstock_6488272
  • You yawn repeatedly.
  • You have difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
  • You tailgate or miss traffic signs.
  • You keep pulling your vehicle back into the lane.

Drive Focused.  Stay Safe.  Avoid Aggressive Driving

  • Be  aware of your behavior and the behavior of others on the road during the late night, early morning, and mid afternoon hours when drowsy driving crashes are most likely to occur.  Plan a rest stop during these hours.
  • Get a full night of rest before driving.  If you become tired while driving, stop.  A short nap (15- 45 minutes) and consuming caffeine can help temporarily.
  • Stop at regular intervals when driving long distances.  Get out of the car every 2 hours to stretch and walk briskly.
  • Set a realistic goal for the number of miles you can safely drive each day.
  • Avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Employers Guide to Reducing Vehicle Crashes.” For more information, please visit www.trafficsafety.org.

 

Run a Full Service Security Suite

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Safeguarding data is about more than backing it up. Intrusion attempts, computer viruses and malware all can compromise business data and threaten your systems.

Consider installing a hardware firewall. Most firewall systems protect your software, but by the time most firewalls are activated, the threat is already inside your network. But a secure appliance-based firewall between the Internet and your business data will block intruders and threats before they enter your network.

Anti-virus and spam filters represent another security layer that protects incoming and outgoing data. Use content filters; they protect local computers from malware threats by blocking entry to potentially harmful websites.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.