How to Keep Your Home Safe and Healthy This Fall

It’s finally September, and while many of us gear up for the fall season with a pumpkin spice latte or your favorite football team’s jersey, it is also important to think about fall preparation to prevent home hazards and illnesses. SMO Energy would like to remind you and your family of some helpful safety tips to make sure you and your home are prepared for the changing of seasons.

Fall Safety Check List to Keep Your Home Safe and Healthy:

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced by burning material containing carbon. Carbon monoxide can be produced by the common household appliance when not properly ventilated. Early warning systems of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headaches, nausea, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, here are some helpful tips:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector 18 inches off the ground. If you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, test to make sure it is properly functioning and change the batteries if needed.
  • If you have fuel-burning heating appliances such as a furnace, boiler, or gas fireplace, you should have an annual inspection and cleaning done to make sure there are no hazards within the unit, and that the flame is burning the correct color to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The flame in your unit should be burning blue, not yellow. If the flame in your furnace or boiler is not burning blue, please contact SMO Energy or a professional service technician immediately.

Prevent Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the U.S. in 2015. In 2015, fires were responsible for over 15,000 injuries, over 3,000 deaths, and $14.3 billion in property damage. Of the home fires that were reported, the top two leading causes were cooking equipment and heating equipment. No one wants to experience a home fire, and there are precautions that you can take today to prevent a fire from happening in your home. Here are a few helpful tips to prevent a home fire:

  • Daylight savings time is a great reminder to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you replace your smoke detector every 10 years and that you have smoke detectors installed in each bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement. For more information on where to install smoke detectors in your home, go to the National Fire Protection Association’s website.
  • Check your home’s fire extinguisher expiration date. Fire extinguishers do not last forever and should be discarded and replaced at the expiration date. When purchasing a fire extinguisher, look for one that is multipurpose and effective on Class A, B, and C fires.
  • Have fireplaces cleaned and inspected. Whether you have a gas or wood burning fireplace, you want to have your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional to prevent any health or fire issues.
  • Have your home’s cooking and home heating appliances cleaned and inspected by a professional. Because they are the number one and two reasons for home fires, it is very important to make sure they are operating correctly and safely.

Use Caution When Doing Outdoor Fall Chores

With the beautiful fall weather comes outdoor chores to prepare your home for the winter. Here are some home safety tips to remember when completing your fall chores this season:

  • Often the Autumn season means cleaning the gutters and hanging holiday decorations. When using a ladder, make sure it is properly placed and supported, and make sure you are wearing the proper footwear to prevent slips and falls.
  • Clear away leaves from outdoor heating and air units to prevent any issues.
  • Clear leaves from walkways and driveways to prevent slips and falls.
  • Protect your skin by wearing long clothing and gloves when doing outdoor yardwork and clearing leaves.

Preparing for the Cold

Fall is a good time to take preventive measures to avoid hazards related to the drop in outside temperatures. Here are some helpful tips to save you on costly repairs and prevent illnesses this winter:

  • Drain and shut off all outdoor faucets and water lines, and insulate all pipes to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting when the temperature drops.
  • Always keep your heat on and never below 50 degrees when you are not home. This will help prevent pipes in your home from freezing bursting.
  • Insulate basements and attics to help keep your heating costs down, by keeping cold air out and warm air in.
  • Don’t forget to clean your humidifier. Humidifiers are a great home addition that add moisture to the air, and provide health benefits as well as some benefits. They can also be known to grow mold, mildew and bacterial contamination if not cleaned.Nate Certified Engineer fro SMO It is important to review your humidifier’s manual for recommended cleaning in order to prevent illness in the home. If you have a humidifier installed within your HVAC system, contact SMO Energy to have a NATE certified technician properly clean and inspect it before the start of the heating season.
  • Have your hot water heater inspected and cleaned by a NATE certified technician. Over time, sediment and minerals build in the water heater and it is important to have the unit flushed to remove any build up. It is also important to make sure that the water heater is in good shape so you won’t be left without hot water on a cold day.

SMO Energy and Companies are Committed to Safe and Healthy Homes

SMO Energy with the parent company, The Wills Group, and sister company, Dash In, are committed to ensuring safe and healthy homes within our community. We provide assistance to qualified, low-income homeowners across Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and Southern Maryland (including seniors, veterans, single parents and those with disabilities) by providing energy assistance, including free equipment repair and replacement. We also invest in local community organizations to provide critical home repairs that preserve homeownership. Our employees volunteer with local housing groups to improve or build homes. Our shared goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy home. To see our most recent efforts, click the button below.

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