Essential Home Fire Prevention Steps to Implement Today


A home fire is not something that any homeowner ever wants to think might happen to them, so all too often they prefer not to think about it at all. Much that kind of head in the sand attitude can’t change the basic fact that a fire can strike any home at any time. Recent research also actually suggests that newer, modern homes may be at greater risk, mainly due to an abundance of synthetic materials — in everything from carpet backing to upholstery stuffing being present in most of them. And the trend towards open plan rooms may help some fires spread more quickly too.

While completely fireproofing a home is simply not possible there are some common sense steps that can – and should – be taken by every homeowner to minimize the risk of fire. Here are some of the most essential fire prevention steps that you can begin implementing today :

Make Sure Fire Extinguishers Are in Place and Working

This one is no-brainer and yet something that many homeowners overlook. Your home needs fire extinguishers and they need to work. To help make your home as safe as possible, you should have one fire extinguisher in an easy-to-grab spot on every floor. At the very least, make sure that you have one in the kitchen, where fires are most likely to start, and one in the garage, where flammable materials like oil and gas are kept. And make sure that they are in good working order and that every member of the household knows how to use it.

Keep Smoke Alarms in Working Order

Many newer homes have (often to comply with local building regulations) smoke alarms hardwired in. But that does not mean that they work. Whether your home has hardwired or battery operated smoke alarms they need to be tested at least twice a year. Here’s an idea; when you change the clocks, test your smoke alarms. It takes five minutes but may save your life some day.

In terms of early warnings of fire, a smoke detector alarm is the most critical tool. Laws vary by state, but most newly constructed homes (generally built after 1994) must have hard-wired smoke detectors throughout (battery-operated detectors are permissible for older homes). If you have questions, double-check with your builder or city fire marshal.

Get Your Wiring Checked

Whether your home is very old, has been recently renovated, or is new construction, it’s never a bad idea to hire a licensed electrician to check all wiring and outlets just to make sure there’s no chance of overload or sparking. That’s not all they should be on the lookout for though. Basic wear and tear and even things like rodent chewed wiring can lead to disaster and so make sure that the inspection you order is an extensive one.

Maintain Your Fireplace Meticulously

Fireplaces are gorgeous, wonderful additions to the home but if they are incorrectly or haphazardly maintained they can be deadly too. In a wood burning fireplace wood creates creosote, which over time builds on the lining of the chimney and can become a fire hazard. Get into the habit of scheduling an annual appointment for a chimney cleaning and in between keep the grates etc. as clean and debris free as possible as well.

Don’t assume you’re safer with a gas fireplace, though. Gas fireplaces are not free from hazards: Those glass coverings can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and pose a major burn risk for toddlers or pets. If you decide to go with gas, make sure to invest in a screen barrier to go on the outside of the glass. It should also be subject to an annual professional inspection as well.

Inspect Your Dryer

A simple clothes dryer can be quite the fire hazard as well. Make sure that the attached vent is clean and connected before every use and that goes for the lint trap too, as it is a clogged lint trap that leads to many of the dryer related fires that damage homes every year.

Go Natural Whenever You Can

Older homes that were constructed decades ago boast many natural materials that newer homes do not; wood, metals, plant fibers and cottons. Modern homes contain a lot more plastic and synthetic materials and these do burn more readily and at a higher temperature than natural materials. While it’s not practical, possible, or even sensible to replace all of the potentially flammable building materials in your home, you can choose your decor and furniture — and that can make a big difference in a fire.

If possible, try to limit the amount of plastic and synthetic fibers you bring into your home by purchasing wood furniture, cotton drapes and shower curtains, and carpets that meet proper flammability guidelines.

Beat a Smoke Ban – And Stay Safer – This Summer with an Electric Grill


If you are a fan of outdoor cookery then you know just how great grilled food prepared al fresco can taste. But if you, like many people, live in an area where outdoor flamed grills are banned, often called a ‘smoke ban’ something that is increasingly common in apartment complexes and condo developments, then you may fear that your grilling days are over.That does not have be the case though, if you choose the right electric grill.

How to Choose The Right Electric Grill For You

There are those that will try to tell you that an outdoor electric grill is just not a real barbecue These people seem to feel that if you are not burning your hands on hot charcoal (or failing to have hot charcoal because it refuses to light or stay lit) or running to the store to fill up empty propane tanks you are just not doing it right.

The fact is that there are a great many outdoor electric grills that produce just the same kind of tasty and healthful grilled foods as their counterparts, but without much of the mess and extra hassle. And definitely without the big fire risk that barbeques and firepits can sometimes be (and it is that risk of fire damage that is the reason for most grill bans in the first place)

Choosing the right outdoor electric grill for your needs can be hard, as there are often so many models and sizes to pick from. Some of the most popular outdoor electric grills are those that are cart based and fairly compact. These are usually big enough to cook for a small gathering but are easy to clean and then store quite nicely on even the smallest patio or balcony. This models usually only cost $200 or less.

For those who like to barbecue big there are outdoor electric grills that are just as big as any other barbecue out there. They do tend to be a little more expensive than their charcoal or propane cousins but they are far easier to clean and use.

If you have a very limited space in which to grill outside there are a number of good quality smaller outdoor electric grills that are also designed to be compact and pleasing to the eye. These are especially good for apartment dwellers who do not wish to attract the ire of their landlord by having a large grill cluttering up their small balcony and spoiling the look of the complex or building for others (or burning it down come to that matter)

The New Alternative – Electric Smokers

You may not be familiar with a smoker or a smoker grill and what it does, many are not. Even fewer people are really familiar with the concept of an electric smoker grill. You have probably however eaten a number of smoked foods, both cooked and uncooked. The electric smoker is merely a modern way to cook in a very old and traditional manner.

An electric smoker grill works in much the same way as any other kind of smoker. The idea behind smoker cooking is that the food is cooked slowly and over a low heat. Smoking is not a quick process but the results are usually well worth the time.

Any smoker is usually a cylinder which inside basically consists of a “fire box” and a cooking chamber. Whatever heat source you use, whether electric gas or charcoal, the food is smoked by the wood inside the smoker. You do have to choose your smoking woods very carefully, as certain woods produce a bitter taste that is far from pleasant. Some of the favorite woods used by smoking experts are mesquite, hickory, maple and apple. Some recipes may instruct you on what kind of wood to use to get the best flavor.

The advantage of the electric smoker is that is easy to regulate so food can be left smoking for hours without the need for constant attention. The result is almost always meat that is so tender and flavorful that it has to be tasted to be believed.

An electric smoker grill is a double duty appliance. Once the food has been smoked the appliance converts into a regular electric grill to finish the job. This is one method of grilling in which the flavor in no way suffers when using electricity instead of charcoal or propane.

Do You Know What to Do if a Kitchen Fire Strikes?


Did you know that, according to various government reports and studies there are an average of 24,000 house fires in Canada every year? Or that over 50% of them can be traced back to a blaze that began in a kitchen? Kitchen fires themselves, especially those involving cooking mishaps, which accounts for 90% of them, can often be contained, it’s panic and not quite knowing what to do that often leads to a relatively small fire becoming a much bigger problem. And all of this leads us to one very important question;do you know what to do when a kitchen fire flares?

Grease and Oil Fires in the Kitchen

Grease and oil fires are different to any other kind and should not be handled as you might a different kind of incendiary event. The biggest rule of thumb is that you must never pour water on a grease or oil fire? Why? It’s actually better to show you rather than tell you:

As the guys mention at the end of this VERY scary video, the very best way to handle a fire like this one is to smother it with a damp dishtowel and then turn off the source of heat once the flames are contained. Leave the pan exactly where it is though, so that it can cool off. Never move the pan, never carry it outside or put it in the sink, and don’t remove the dishtowel until eveything has had plenty of time to cool down.

Oven, Microwave, and Electrical Fires

Fires can happen anywhere in the kitchen — near an electrical outlet, in the microwave, or in the stove:

Oven fires – Immediately close the oven door and turn it off. If the fire doesn’t go out right away, call the fire department and prepare to evacuate the home. Even if the fire does go out by itself don’t use the oven again until you have had it properly and professionally inspected. To help prevent such flare ups keep your oven, especially it’s floor, as clean as possible. That melted cheese that plopped off your pizza a few days ago? It can easily ignite the next time you cook and lead to this kind of problem.

Microwave fires – Close the microwave door and keep it closed. Turn the microwave off and unplug it if you can do so safely. Do not touch the appliance again and don’t even think about using it again until you can have it checked out by a technician.

Electrical fires. – Most kitchen electrical fires are caused by overloading your electrical outlets with too many appliances plugged in at once, so not doing that – EVER – is the very best way to protect against them. If a fire does start, use a fire extinguisher to put it out ; never douse it with water. You should also always call the fire department for an electrical fire, even if you have already put it out with the fire extinguisher, as the cause will need to be investigated and they are the best people to get that ball rolling.

Using a Fire Extinguisher on Kitchen Fire

Every domestic kitchen should be equipped with a fire extinguisher. But if a fire does flare you won’t have time then to stop and read the directions. Become familiar with these tips to understand how to use a fire extinguisher on a small kitchen fire:

  • First, remove the pin from the fire extinguisher — it won’t work if you don’t.
    Point the extinguisher toward the base of the fire, not the top of the flames.
    Holding it by the handle, press down on the lever on the fire extinguisher; just let go when you want to stop.
    Spray horizontally back and forth across the fire until it’s extinguished, remembering to aim low.

Baking soda is also an important ingredient in any kitchen, and not just for baking cookies and freshening up your fridge. If a fire breaks out on an electric stovetop or if you don’t have anything available to smother a grease fire, grab a box of baking soda and pour it generously on the flames. Baking soda will help to extinguish a small fire, but you may need several boxes of it. Never use flour to put out a fire, as it can make the flames worse.

When to Call the Fire Department for a Kitchen Fire

So when should you call for help and when should you try to fight a fire yourself? Basically, you should never feel you have to hesitate to call the fire department. But if it’s a small, contained fire, you should follow the above tips to try to extinguish it while waiting for help to arrive.

You should get your family out of the house, and if the flames rise and spread, you should get out, too. Kitchen fires that start very small and can be quickly contained or extinguished are one thing, but roaring fires aren’t something you should attempt to tackle.

Preparing Your Pets for a Home Emergency


Whether it’s a flood or a fire when disaster strikes a home the pets that live there are affected every bit as much as the humans. The smart advice we give to everyone is that while no one wants to ever think that disaster could strike their home, it pays to be prepared by drawing up a formal plan to follow in the event that the worst does happen. And as for most of us our pets really are a part of our families then including them in your emergency plans is a must.

Your Pet’s Emergency Plan:

Just like you should have an emergency/disaster kit for humans you should also have one for the animals. Here are some tips for creating one:

Food and water for at least five days with bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. Usually humans need at least one gallon of water per person per day. Your pet probably won’t need that much, but keep an extra gallon on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed as soon as possible.

Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a pet first-aid kit. A pet first-aid book is a good idea too.

Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop and garbage bags for dog waste

Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport your pets safely and to ensure that they can’t escape. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and if they are not already, considered having them microchipped. the pet carriers you choose should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down, especially as they might have to be confined for quite a while.

Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to help prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.

Notes about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your vet in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.

Pet Safety During an Emergency

Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.

Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats are usually best friends , the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.

If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets rarely survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbours, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for your pets if you are unable to do so.

After the Emergency

In the first few days after the disaster, always leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact, don’t leave them feeling like they are alone. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost if you don’t stick close by.

Be aware that the general behavior of your pets may change after an emergency too. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become skittish, aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely and call your vet for help and advice if they really do seem to have been adversely affected.

Tips to Prevent Holiday Fires and Enjoy a Safer Christmas Season


If you haven’t put your Christmas decorations up already no doubt you are thinking about it. And we’re sure they’ll look absolutely fantastic. But you do need to take care, both when choosing and putting up your Christmas decor – including your Christmas tree – and when ‘using’ them as the holiday season progresses. As fire damage restoration is one of the things we are called upon to do here at Restoration 1 Kitchener we know all too well that Christmas decorations – primarily trees and lights – can unfortunately lead to disaster. That’s why we wanted to alert you, our neighbours and customers, to some of the dangers of Christmas decorating and offer a little advice about what you can do to prevent home fires and more.

Christmas Fire Prevention 101: Your Christmas Tree 

Do you make sure that your live Christmas tree is well watered? Or does it tend to become rather dry and brittle even before Santa sets off on his sleigh? No matter though, as long as it manages to look okay until the New Year right? Not quite. A well watered tree is a must, but not just for aesthetic purposes. A moist tree can resist the dangers posed electrical shorts in Christmas lights or a stray spark from a candle flame. A dry tree? Not so much, as the rather scary video from the National Institute of Standards and Technology below demonstrates:



So how can you enjoy the beauty of a real Christmas tree – and that lovely scent – without putting your home, and your family, at a risk of a fire, other than making sure you keep things damp? Here are some basic tips:

When choosing a tree opt for one with plenty of fresh green needles that are not falling off everywhere. The best way to ensure you get a really ‘fresh’ tree is to go cut your own of course and you can actually make a rather nice family bonding event from such a trip.

  • Don’t put your live Christmas tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.
  • Place trees away from heat sources, including fireplaces or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
  • Keep the live tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Use only nonflammable decorations.
  • Don’t link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it’s safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Avoid using lit candles; consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles
  • Ensure that Christmas trees and other holiday decorations don’t block an exit way.

Christmas Fire Prevention 101: Your Christmas Lights 

All too often seasonal fires are caused by faulty electrical products, primarily Christmas lights. In order to make sure you are ‘lighting up’ safely this season keep the following tips in mind:

  • Always buy seasonal electrical products – lights, Christmas animatronics etc – that display a label indicating it has undergone independent testing by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
  • ™Only make purchases from trusted retailers to avoid the risk of purchasing counterfeit otr badly made products.
  • ™Be sure to buy decorations according to your intended use; outdoors or indoors.
    ™Send warranty and product registration forms to manufacturers in order to be notified
    promptly in the event of a product recall.
  • This year opt for LED lights over the traditional ones, as:
  • LED lights last up to 20 times longer than traditional incandescent lights.
  • ™LEDs generate less heat—which translates into greater energy-efficiency and fire safety.
  • ™LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass and are much more durable.

Why the Type of Wood You Burn in Your Fire Pit Really Matters


Not so long ago we discussed the safe use of fire pits and how to help ensure that your outdoor cooking activities do not end up damaging your home or worse. Today we want to discuss the actual wood you burn it.

If you are a relatively new wood burning fire pit owner you may wonder if it really makes a difference what kind of firewood you use. Wood is wood right? Actually no it is not. What kind of firewood you choose for use in your fire pit really does make a difference to how well it perform as well as to how long it will remain in good shape while stored.

Green Wood vs Seasoned Wood

The most common mistake people make when they first purchase a wood burning fire pit is using what is called green wood rather seasoned fire wood. Green wood is wood that has only recently been cut. When any wood is freshly cut it actually consists of about 70-75% water. as you might imagine firewood that has such a high moisture content is going to be very hard to burn. Usually the result is a smoky smouldering mess, not the roaring fire you were hoping for.

Seasoned firewoood on the other hand is perfect for use in a fire pit. In order to season firewood it is left exposed to the air (but nor to the rain or to insects) for a minimum of eight to nine months. By doing this a great deal of the excess moisture evaporates away, leaving you with logs that are nice and dry and ready to burn.

Types of Wood to Consider Burning in Your Fire Pit

Burning any type of wood in your fire pit is going to be a bit of a smoky experience but the type of wood you use can produce a differing flame as well. For instance, hardwoods like hard maple, pecan, ash, white oak, birch and hickory all produce a very hot flame but without a great deal of smoke. They also tend to be longer burning than other woods, so they are a great choice for a long chilly evening outside but perhaps not so great if you only want a fire that burns for a few hours in the height of summer.

For a less intense flame spruce, yellow pine and fir all give off a medium amount of heat and have the added bonus that they also give off a more pleasing aroma as they burn.

If you will be using your fire pit to cook the kind of wood you choose will make a difference to the flavors of your food, as well as to the way the fire burns. Here are some of the most commonly used cooking woods and examples of the foods they pair best with:

Alder – Alder produces a very delicate, if slightly sweet taste. It is great for cooking white fish, chicken and turkey.

Apple – Apple is one of the most popular of the “cooking woods” and it produces a heavier flavor than alder that is both sweet and smoky at the same time. It is great for preparing lean beef, ham and chicken.

Cherry, Grape, Mulberry and Pear – these less common cooking woods are an excellent choice for cooking all kinds of meets if you want a subtly sweet flavor that still has a nice robust smokiness.

Maple – Maple produces a mild smoked flavor with a tiny bit of sweetness and is an excellent choice for roasting vegetables.

Mesquite – The most popular “barbecue” cooking wood mesquite has a strong smoky flavor that is great for red meat.

Oak – Oak produces a very strong smoky flavor and is possibly the most popular cooking wood amongst those who like red meat, pork and game to have a very strong flavor.

How to Keep Your Investments Safe from Natural Disasters


As many poor souls in Texas have recently discovered , a natural disaster can destroy everything you own in just a few short minutes. Although hopefully a flood of epic proportions will never affect the area you live in, a flash flood, a hurricane or a fire can wreak just as much havoc.

While there is nothing you can do to prevent most natural disasters, there are some safeguards you can begin putting into place right now that could greatly soften the blow suffered by your personal finances should the worst occur.

Make Sure You are Carrying Enough Insurance

Having to pay big insurance premiums when nothing ever seems to go wrong can often seem like a big waste of money. You write a monthly check to your insurance company every month and never see anything in return, so why bother? That is how you might see it in the good times, but should disaster strike you will be more than happy that you kept a decent insurance policy current.

If you own your home and carry a mortgage, maintaining a homeowners insurance policy is mandatory. You should review the policy you have though, to make absolutely certain that you have adequate coverage that would allow you to repair or rebuild your home after a natural disaster without having to pay too much out of your own pocket.

Renters Need Insurance Too

Renters are rarely required to carry insurance, so a natural disaster can be especially devastating for them. Most renters insurance policies will not only help offset the cost of replacing your stuff, but also the cost of a hotel room if your home becomes completely uninhabitable for a while. Such policies are very inexpensive and are a precaution well worth taking. Many car insurance companies offer rental insurance as well, and may offer you an extra discount if you buy both kinds of policies from them.

Upgrade Your Home’s Safeguards

While there is nothing that you as a homeowner can do to control the forces of nature, there are safeguards that can be put it in place to minimise the chance that certain disasters will destroy your home and endanger your family. Preventable fires destroy hundreds of homes every year, simply because homeowners failed to have their electrical wiring checked for faults on a regular basis, or did not remember to check the batteries in their smoke alarms.

Do not let that happen to you. If an electrical socket sparks occasionally when you pull a plug in and out do not ignore it, call in an electrician right away to figure out why it is happening. And yes, it gets very annoying when your smoke alarms go off every time you cook at temperatures that are a little hotter than usual, but by removing the batteries out of frustration, you could be putting everything you own, and your family’s life, in serious danger.

Create an Emergency Fund Now

Having an emergency source of cash you can depend on in the event of a natural disaster can be truly helpful. Even if you already have a savings account consider setting up a new one, one that cannot be touched unless it is absolutely necessary – your very own emergency fund. Look for a savings account that offers the best possible rate of interest and try to add funds to it at least once a month.

You should also keep an eye on your credit card balances. While plastic should never take the place of a cash based emergency fund, having a credit card in your wallet that is not maxed out can be very handy when a natural disaster has rendered your home unfit to live in for the moment and you need to check into a hotel or pay for the gas you’ll need to drive to your parents’ house.

Think About the Unthinkable

No one ever really likes to think about the very worst thing that could happen in the event of a natural disaster, that they could become one of the sad statistics on the evening news. As disturbing as it is to consider your own mortality in this way, you really do owe it to the people who depend on you to do so.

Maintaining a legal, up to date will, designating power of attorney to a trusted individual should you ever become unable to make decisions for yourself and buying a good life insurance policy are all things you should do now. Life can take unexpected and tragic turns, and it is not always a natural disaster that is to blame. The loss of your income may very well devastate your family far more than any natural disaster ever could, so trying to safeguard against that reality only makes sense.

Protect Your Personal and Financial Information

If a natural disaster has you fleeing your home in a hurry, or unable to enter it at all, all of your personal and financial records may be lost for good. Keeping copies of these records, or even the originals themselves, in an outside storage location makes a great deal of sense. Keeping your valuables, your deeds and tiles and other important papers in a wall safe at home might seem like a good idea, but if the wall the safe was installed in is gone so is everything that was in it. Invest in a safety deposit box at your local bank instead and make sure that whenever you gain new important documents you place copies into it.

Is Your Home Trying to Kill You? Home Hazards and Your Health


You slog to the gym every day whether you really feel like it or not. You cut back on all those bad for you foods (that you love) and really make an effort to eat healthy these days. You even dropped a few of those extra pounds (or are at least trying to.) All of this is wonderful, but what you may not realize is that the most unexpected things can be bad for your health – and your home might just be one of them.

Here are some of the health hazards that might be lurking in your home. All of these situations can be fairly easily remedied, you just have to realize what a threat these home hazards are, which many of us really don’t.

Radon – You can’t see it, smell it or touch it but radon may be lurking in your home, especially if it has a basement. Radon is a gas that is created naturally as result of the normal breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It can worm its way into your home through cracks in the foundation or in walls and floors. Radon is nasty stuff , it has been shown to be a leading cause of lung cancer (so much for having given up smoking)

Testing is really the only way you can determine whether or not you have a radon problem in your home. Most hardware stores sell an easy do it yourself testing kit. If that test indicates that you do have a problem then it is time to call in the pros to help you figure out where it is coming from and how to keep it out.

Mould – Mould is another nasty that likes to lurk in homes everywhere. When it is under the floorboards or hiding in a dark corner of your basement you may not notice it for months, even years. Moulds can worsen allergies that anyone living in the home may have and some strains can even be deadly if allowed to take hold. If you catch it quick enough most mold can be banished fairly easily but if there is a lot of it, or it seems to be hanging in there rather stubbornly calling in a professional to help you get the mold out for good should be your next move.

Falls – A fall in their own home kills hundreds of people – young, old and in between – every year and injures thousands of others and many of them could have been prevented. To make your home a safer place to navigate keep electrical cords neat and off the floor, anchor down area rugs and make sure that any hard surface flooring (especially in the bathroom) is not too slippy and shiny and take steps to reduce the humidity in your bathroom to reduce slippy floor syndrome that way too (and doing so will also help prevent mould.)

Fire – The average home may have dozens of fire hazards lurking within it. See that mass of plugs plugged into that one power strip attached to your kids computer/TV/ three video game consoles set up in their room? That’s an accident just waiting to happen. Often in the form of a devastating fire. So are all the wires attached to the home entertainment system in the living room and the microwave/toaster/coffee maker all plugged into the same outlet in the kitchen.

Instead of buying more extension cords call in a good electrician to wire you a few more sockets. Your home will be a safer place and the chances that a power surge will kill off all your expensive electrical equipment in just a split second will be reduced as well as the very real fire risk.

Other electrical fire hazards are harder to see because they are hiding behind a wall in the form of worn out or faulty electrical circuitry. Have all of the electrical wiring in your home checked by a professional electrician at least once every few years and if they tell you it needs replacing take their advice. A little extra expense now could save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Fire Pit Safety Basics


A fire pit makes a great addition to almost any home’s outdoor space. It allows you to use your backyard even on cool nights, extending the useful life of your outdoor living space. It is a great gathering point for get togethers and relaxing in front of the warm flames of a fire pit after a long hard day is one of life’s lovely little pleasures.

Whatever type of fire pit you do choose to install though you need to be aware of some basic fire pit safety rules, as well as understand what you should do if the flames should ever burn a little too bright.

Fire Pit Safety – Fire Pit Placement

A lot of homeowners want a fire pit they can add to their patio, making it more of a comfortable outdoor living room than anything else. There are a number of great fire pit choices that can help them achieve this goal (fire tables are an especially good choice if you enjoy al fresco dining) You do have to be careful where you place them, for safety’s sake, whether you have a more traditional wood burning fire pit or a gas fueled one.

You should not locate your gas fire pit any closer than about six to ten feet from your home itself though and you should never place it underneath overhanging branches. If you have a gas burning fire pit it is very important that all the vents are clear at all times to avoid smoky flare ups. Gas fire pits are safe if used properly but do not think that because you have a gas fire pit you will never experience a problem with a fire that gets out of control if you do things like turn the flame too high or allow very flammable materials to enter its flames.

Wood burning fire pits are very safe, as long as you use them responsibly. The first thing to remember is that a fire needs to be lit carefully and slowly. The wood you use should be dry and preferably well seasoned. You should never load it too full with smaller pieces of wood or kindling as that increases the risk that a lit piece of wood could fall out of the fire pit. and most of all even if you have been trying to light a fire for a while and it is taking longer than you had hoped never be tempted to use an something like lighter fuel to get it going. Even using a very small amount can have disastrous consequences.

What Do in An Emergency

Whatever kind of fire pit you own it is always a good idea to keep a supply of dry sand nearby. Some fire pits cannot withstand a blast of water and a focused spray from a garden hose can easily spread burning embers. A bucket of dry sand dumped onto the flames of a small fire will usually do the trick but if yours is a gas fire pit you first move should always be to turn the gas off.

If you choose to keep a fire extinguisher on hand instead it should be a  dry-chemical extinguisher with a Class B and C or multipurpose rating. If you do have to use it for safety’s sake you should follow the pass procedure – pull the pin; aim at the base of the fire; squeeze the trigger slowly; sweep the nozzle from side to side.

If the fire is larger than you can deal with do not stick around – get everyone away from the fire, away from the house and then use a cell phone to call for help.

Measuring Relative Humidity – How Its Done and Why Its Important


Humidity is the amount of moisture or water vapor that is found in the air. Relative humidity is a term that is used to define just how much of that moisture there is, expressed as a percentage. You probably hear the term when the weatherman is giving out the forecast in the evening.

There is not very much you can do about the relative humidity being high outdoors. All you can really do is dress for the heat and take plenty of water with you as it is going to be hot and sticky all around you. A better idea may be to head for the nearest air conditioned space to keep cool instead!

Having a high level of relative humidity inside your home can be more of a problem. And it can be the middle of winter and you can find that your home is still sticky and warm.

How Does Humidity Occur Inside the Home?

You and everyone in your family, including your pets, add moisture to the air in your home when you breathe or when you perspire. Any houseplants you might have can add to that moisture level too. Then we add even more moisture to the air when we cook, do laundry, shower and even when we wash dishes.

The Importance of the Right Humidity Level

Our homes need a certain humidity level to be present for our health and comfort. Too much relative humidity, or too little can cause all kinds of problems. Consider these facts:

Too Much Humidity:

  • Causes condensation on windows
  • Causes wet stains to appear on walls, even on ceilings
  • Causes mould to form in damper areas like the bathroom
  • Can cause, or worsen, indoor allergy symptoms.
  • Over time can cause permanent damage to the structure of your home.
  • Can cause ongoing health problems

Too Little Humidity:

  • Can cause excess static electricity and unsafe sparking
  • Can cause electronic equipment to malfunction
  • Can cause damage to delicate home furnishings
  • Will make the air feel very dry and uncomfortable
  • Can cause breathing problems
  • Homeowners often experience chapped lips, very dry skin and sore throats

Measuring Relative Humidity

If you have any of these problems in your home the humidity level there may certainly be the problem. The first thing you have to do is measure it. This is not difficult, all you need is a little device called a hygrometer. It may go by other names sometimes – a humidity sensor or a relative humidity indicator – but they all do the same thing,  measure the relative humidity level in your home and display it as a percentage.

There are two main types of hygrometers – electronic and mechanical. There are differences between the two that may help you make a purchase decision:

Mechanical Hygrometer

Costs as little as $5 rarely ever more than $30. Can often be found as a part of a decorative “weather center”
Is usually made from plastic, has a round design and can be made to be quite attractive.
Does not need batteries or a power source
Fairly accurate if it is calibrated correctly

Electronic Hygrometer

Costs between $20 and $60
Usually made of plastic with an LCD display screen
Runs on batteries
Very accurate, does not need calibration

Whichever method you choose once you have measured the relative humidity in your home you need to decide if it is indeed too high or low. Most humans feel comfortable in about 45% humidity so that is a good figure to look for.

If you do discover that humidity – either too much or too little – is a problem in your home the fix is usually fairly easy. There are both humidifiers and dehumidifiers on the market that can be purchased relatively inexpensively that can solve your home humidity woes fairly easily. If they do not you may have water leakage issues in your home that should be investigated by a professional.