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Winter Shopping List to Protect Your Home

#6 or #8 Sheet Metal Screws: For those homes with flue or vent piping (stoves, furnaces, water heaters), buy 30 self-drilling sheet metal screws that are a half inch long (#6 or #8).  They cost approximately $1.   Use your cordless drill to install three new screws at each of the stovepipe joints, placing them about a half inch from the ends of the pipes.  If the pipe is rusty, replace it! Unfortunately, firefighters see many missing screws which allows the pipes to separate over time and spew poisonous Carbon Monoxide (CO) into the home.

Chimney Flare: If you burn wood or coal, buy a chimney flare at the hardware store.  We suggest that you immediately read the two-sentence instructions on the flare as you place it into your shopping cart.  In case of a chimney fire, call 911 first and then quickly place the flare in the stove according the directions that you previewed when you bought it.

Metal Trash Can: Always place ashes in a metal can with a tight fitting lid and store the can outside away from buildings until no hot embers are present (you can run your hand through them). If you inadvertently dump ashes on the ground and the wind kicks up hot embers, immediately cover the ashes with an upside down metal can or its lid and immediately extinguish them with water.     

Smoke Detectors Batteries, CO Detectors: Make sure that you have smoke detectors on every floor and in every bedroom, and that you have tested them.  Replace the old batteries with new ones at the beginning of November when daylight savings time ends.  If you use gas, oil, wood, coal, or wood pellets, install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector on EACH level in your home to protect against poisonous carbon monoxide, which is odorless and tasteless.

Baking Soda: Purchase two or three new containers of baking soda to keep in the cupboard next to your stove in case of a grease flare-up.  Baking soda can become lumpy over time so new boxes will assure that you can readily sprinkle or pour the soda over a grease fire.

Candle Holdersz: Burning candles during fall and winter evenings creates a cozy ambiance in a room.  Make sure your candle holders are made of non-combustible materials.  Be aware that a glass holder that is not heat resistant can shatter and break, especially if the candle is left to burn too low.  Do not allow a candle to burn too close to the holder: extinguish and discard your candle if it is two inches or less.  Metal holders are always a good option.  Make sure that you place your candle holders on durable heat-resistant surfaces and at least a foot away from surrounding household items that can burn.         

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