By Sarah Layton
I didn’t make it 30 feet into Jo-Ann Fabric before stopping at a shelf.
“50 percent off decorative pumpkins and it’s not even November yet?” I said partially to myself, partially to make a case to my begrudging husband who had accompanied me craft shopping earlier this season. That pumpkin, made of twigs and festooned with ribbon, is now a perfect addition to my kitchen island.Aforementioned twig and leaf decor.
Guess what else is on my kitchen island — a candle. A yummy smelling, frequently-lit candle. Even though it may not be the ideal arrangement, that pumpkin now stays three feet from the heat. Just as any item in your home should stay three feet from heat sources, including your stove, a space heater and all candles.
If your expertly carved pumpkin has survived Halloween and you can’t resist using a real candle to make it shine, make sure the candle gets blown out when you can’t monitor it, especially when you leave your home. To light the candle, use something that will keep your appendages safe, such as a long fireplace lighter. Fun fact: My family used to deploy dry spaghetti noodles for our pumpkin-lighting purposes.
Are you the proud household with gigantic spiders on your roof and orange lights illuminating every window? Maybe an inflatable turkey or two in the yard? My apartment has been reduced to one string of lights in our picture window, but even with that we are super careful to unplug them every time we leave the house.
Always remember to turn off any running electric appliances before you leave home, blow out candles and unplug fire hazards such as lights that might get too hot. Especially if they are near those new curtains you spent so much money on…
Toddler Sarah in leaf pile. Photo credit: Sarah’s mom.While I may think the piles of leaves in my yard are super festive fall decor on a grandiose scale, I understand some people out there collect leaves from their yards and dispose of them. (So many leaf pile jumping missed opportunities. But I digress). If your household is serious about leaf collection, here’s how you can also be serious about fire hazards when you dispose of them:
Use caution when burning leaves – Clear leaves away from the home and other buildings. Burn leaves only when permitted and in accordance with local laws and guidelines. Use extreme caution to ensure safety and control of the fire.
Prepare your home – Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home.
Gather firefighting tools – Set aside household items that can be used as firefighting tools: rake, ax, bucket, shovel, etc. You may need to fight a fire before emergency responders arrive.
ROASTING YOUR DECOR
Raise your hand if the pumpkins and gourds scattered strategically around your home are soon to be chopped up for roasted fall treats. I didn’t even carve my pumpkin this year, so it’s a perfect candidate for yummy toasted seeds. Knowing the majority of home fires start in the kitchen, I always have the Red Cross cooking safety tips in mind:
Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.
Keep anything that can catch fire—like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing— away from the stove.
Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
Remember, we have plenty of other fire safety tips on redcross.org, as part of the Home Fire Campaign. Stay tuned for more holiday, cooking and heat-related information to keep your family safe this fall and winter!