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How to Install Metal Hurricane Shutters

If you live in an area that’s prone to extremely high winds, hurricanes, or tropical storms, you should seriously consider protecting your home and family with hurricane shutters.

hurricane shuttersHome Depot

Most high-wind damage is caused by airborne debris crashing through windows and glass doors. Hurricane shutters, which are also called storm panels, provide an effective and relatively affordable way to cover window and door openings.

Here, we’ll discuss the key steps to installing corrugated aluminum shutters, which are quick and easy to install, remove, and store away. Aluminum shutters are also lightweight and incredibly strong. When properly installed, they’re capable of withstanding an impressive 1,000 pounds of force per square inch.

You can also find hurricane shutters made of steel and clear polycarbonate. Each type of shutter is installed slightly differently than the aluminum shutters discussed here. Therefore, it’s important to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the shutters are properly installed.

hurricane shutters sizesHome Depot

Aluminum hurricane shutters measure 15 inches wide and are commonly available in four lengths ranging from 44 to 104 inches.

Before getting into the installation specifics, let’s take a brief look at how hurricane shutters are mounted to the house.

Hurricane Shutters Mounting Systems

A few different mounting systems are used to attach hurricane shutters to the house. The most popular type is known as a track system, which comprises two metal tracks: One track is mounted above the window or door, the other below it. The shutters fit within the two tracks and are secured to protruding bolts with wing nuts. (The aluminum shutters described below are installed with a track system.)

hurricane shutters header trackHome Depot

An aluminum header track secures the top end of the hurricane shutters.

 

stick-stud angleHome Depot

The shutters are bolted to an aluminum bracket, known as a stick-stud angle, that’s installed along the bottom of the window or door.

Track Systems

In a track system, the two tracks are permanently mounted to the house, and the shutters are installed as the storm approaches, and removed and stored away afterwards. There’s another version of the track system that has removable tracks that are taken down along with the shutters. The downside of a removable track system is that it takes much longer to install because you’ve got to install all the tracks first, and then put up the shutters.

 

Direct-Mount Systems

For a direct-mount system, there are no tracks; instead you simply bolt the hurricane shutters directly to the house wall. With this system, threaded inserts are permanently set into the wall and then a machine screw is driven into each insert. When it comes time to install the shutters, you remove the screws, place the shutter over the window or door, and thread the screws into the inserts.

Accordion Shutters

Finally, there are accordion shutters, which get permanently mounted to the house. When there’s a storm coming, all you need to do is pull the shutters closed and latch them. Once the storm passes, simply push the shutters back out of the way. While accordion shutters are the easiest by far to operate, they’re also several times more expensive than aluminum hurricane shutters. Plus, they require professional installation.

 

How to Install Corrugated Hurricane Shutters

Corrugated aluminum hurricane shutters can be installed by any experienced DIYer. Here’s how.

Start by installing the header track, which is often referred to as an H-track because, in profile, it resembles the capital letter H. Next, install the bottom track, which is known as a stick-stud angle because it has threaded bolts (studs) protruding from its surface.

Both tracks must be securely fastened to the house with stainless steel screws or bolts. Check with the shutter manufacturer for specific installation instructions for fastening to various house walls, including wood-framed, concrete block, or poured concrete. Be sure to wear leather work gloves when handling aluminum shutters; they have very sharp edges.

  1. Begin by holding the header track horizontally above the window, making sure its bottom edge is flush with the window opening.
  2. Drive in one screw near the center of the header, then check it for level before driving in the remaining screws.
  3. Run a bead of silicone caulk along the top of the header to seal out rain.
  4. Slip a hurricane shutter into the header and press the shutter tight to the wall. Mark where the bottom end of the shutter contacts the wall below the window.
  5. Measure down ½ inch from the mark and draw a level line onto the wall. Hold the bottom track flush with the level line and screw it to the wall. Most bottom tracks have the bolts already in place. If your track does not, slide the bolts into the provided channel, or pass them through the pre-drilled holes.
  6. Now, with both tracks in place, you can install the hurricane shutters. Slip the upper end of the first shutter into the header.
  7. Press the bottom of the panel against the house wall. Be certain the bolts protrude through the keyhole slots along the bottom of the shutter.
  8. Place keyhole washers onto the bolts, if required by the manufacturer, then thread a wing nut onto each bolt. (A wing-nut driver in a cordless drill makes this job go much faster.)
  9. Slip the second shutter into place, making sure it overlaps the first one. Again, secure the bottom of the shutter with wing nuts. Repeat until all panels are securely held within the two tracks.

That’s all there is to it. It usually takes about five minutes to install aluminum hurricane shutters on an average-size window and less than 10 minutes to protect a sliding patio door. Once you’re sure the storm has passed, you can remove the shutters just as quickly by reversing the installation steps.

The Cost of Hurricane Shutters

By now, I’m sure you’re curious to find out how much aluminum hurricane shutters cost. Prices depend on the size of the shutter, but they also vary from one region of the country to another. However, here’s a ballpark idea of costs:

Corrugated aluminum shutters are typically 15 inches wide, and commonly available in four different heights: 44  ($25), 68  ($34), 86 ($42), and 104 inches ($55).

Expect to pay about $35 for a 146-inch-long aluminum header track, and $56 for the same-length stick-stud angle bottom track. Both tracks can be custom-cut to length.

Depending on how many windows and doors you need to protect, the final cost of hurricane shutters can be significant. However, you should be able to recoup some of the expense through lower homeowner’s insurance premiums; most insurance companies offer considerable discounts if you have hurricane shutters.

Final Advice

Here are two final pieces of advice for your consideration:

1) Practice installing all of your hurricane shutters, and time how long it takes to get them out of storage and hang them up so you have a realistic idea of the lead time you need if a major storm approaches.

2) Be sure your hurricane shutters are easily accessible, and be prepared to act quickly. When a storm is approaching, jump into action, installing the shutters as soon as possible. Hurricane shutters will provide very little protection if they’re buried deep inside your garage.

Joseph Truini is an author and home improvement expert who writes for The Home Depot. He provides advice on everything from picking the right shutters to installing a kitchen island. To view a variety of shutter options, click here.

 

9 Critical Tips for Filing a Disaster Insurance Claim

If your property has been destroyed by a natural disaster, don’t wait to contact your insurance company. When a disaster strikes an area, insurance companies become buried in claims—acting quickly can help keep yours in priority position and may be useful in getting you immediate aide. But don’t file before you’re ready! The last thing you need is to have major delays because of incomplete or inaccurate information.

filing disaster claim fema

FEMA specialists provide claim filing assistance to disaster survivors at a Disaster Recovery Center.

When filing a policy claim after a natural disaster, you should be fully prepared with the following:

1) Survey your property and make a list of all damage. Do not move any item, but take an inventory of damaged goods. Try to include when you purchased an item, the manufacturer’s name, the serial number, the place of purchase, the date of purchase, and the price.

2) Take photographs immediately of all damage, inside and outside, including any standing water, as conditions may change by the time an inspector arrives.

3) Do not throw out any damaged property unless it is a health hazard. If you must throw something out, take a picture of it before you do so and try to keep a sample.

4) Assess your immediate needs, like covering doors, windows, and other exposed areas, and pumping out water. Protect your home from further damage, but do not make any extensive or permanent repairs. Instead, wait until the damage has been properly assessed. Also be prudent with expenditures because only reasonable temporary repairs will be part of the total settlement. And never consider a contractor who wants a large payment up front; at the same time, beware of low estimates because the work may end up being shoddy.

5) Stay on top of your claim. After contacting your insurance company, expect a visit from an insurance adjuster within a couple of days or possibly longer depending on the magnitude of the disaster. If an adjuster has not contacted you to set up a visit within three days, call the insurance company back.

6) Have your documents, notes, and photographs ready when the adjuster visits—this is the time your damage will be officially assessed. This will speed the process of getting a detailed estimate of your property damage. You should both come to an agreement about the scope of damage and what needs to be repaired or replaced. Also let the adjuster know if you need an advance or partial payment for your loss. And be aware that many insurers include inspections of your electrical system, so make sure to inquire.

7) Keep good notes and records. If you have to dispute a claim, make sure you have taken detailed notes the conversations, with whom you spoke, and the dates and times. Keep all receipts for expenses incurred due to temporary repairs or costs of having to relocate, if your policy covers “Loss of Use.” Keep copies of any letters or documents you submit to your insurance company as well as any paperwork received in a safe place.

8) Respond quickly with any additional information required. Your claim is payable only after you and the insurer agree on the damages and the insurer receives your completed and signed “Proof of Loss” statement. Due to the sheer number of claims that are filed after a major disaster, be aware that the claims process may take longer than usual.

9) As a general rule, don’t use the word “lawyer” until you are sure you are unsatisfied with your claim amount. If your claim has been denied, or if you think you are entitled to a larger payment, have your insurance company cite the specific language in your policy on which it is basing its decision. Seek mediation if you have problems reaching an acceptable settlement with your insurance company, as lawsuits can be expensive and protracted.

 

More About Filing a Disaster Insurance Claim

In the event that a disaster damages or destroys your home, the first question you’re likely to ask is whether your homeowner’s insurance will cover the damage. Below are the steps you should take if you plan to file an insurance claim to rebuild your home and replace your damaged property.

* Contact your insurance company and insurance agent as soon as possible after the disaster, since many insurance policies have time limits on how far beyond the event you can file a claim. Make sure to report to both your agent and the company so they both know that you have damage due to a natural disaster and you intend to file an insurance claim.

* Before speaking to your insurance company, write down what you’re going to say and ask, and take notes during the conversation. This way your thoughts will be in order and you will have a record of the responses. Also have at your side a copy of your insurance policy so your account can be readily accessed. Have telephone numbers and email addresses at the ready so your insurance company and agent can contact you at any time.

* If you have to go to a shelter, be ready to provide your insurance agent with a “point of contact” person—the phone number and email address of a trusted relative or friend. This person should have the information to be able to contact you in case the insurance company or agent cannot.

* Begin working on your inventory of lost, stolen, or damaged property. Better still, start working on an inventory of all your property now, before a disaster hits. And consider filing a police report if your losses are also due to burglary or vandalism.

* When speaking to the insurance company, ask if the company will send its own inspectors out (most will) or whether you should get your own estimates for the repair and replacement work. Also ask how long it will take for your claim to be processed after the work to be done is approved.

* Most claims of damages and/or property loss are called “Proof of Loss” claims. These typically must be filed within 60 days after the damage has occurred. This sworn statement, made by you, substantiates the insurance claim and is required before any insurance payments can be made. Your insurance company or adjuster will provide the form, but it is your responsibility to file it.

 

Dealing with FEMA

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides disaster assistance to individuals, families, and businesses in an area whose property has been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster and whose losses are not fully covered by insurance. It is meant to help with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways.

To qualify for assistance from FEMA, your losses must have occurred in an area covered by a disaster declaration. If you have insurance, you must file a claim with your insurance company. Regardless if it is a homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, or earthquake insurance policy, you must file with your insurance company before contacting FEMA. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for FEMA assistance.

FEMA will schedule an appointment to inspect the damage to your property. During the inspection, you must be present and provide proof of ownership and occupancy to the inspector. If you cannot be present, you may designate someone (over the age of 18) to meet with the inspector on your behalf. You may also be asked to sign a form that authorizes this individual to meet with the inspector.

Within about 10 days after the inspector’s visit, FEMA will decide if you qualify for an assistance grant. If you qualify, FEMA will send you a check and a letter describing how you are to use the money. You are required to use the money only as explained in the letter. If you do not use the money as explained by FEMA, you may not be eligible for any additional help and may have to refund the money.

Before beginning any repairs, check with your local building department to find out what local permits or inspections are required, as well as any building code upgrades since the time your home was originally built.

For more details on how to file a claim with FEMA, go to www.fema.

Get Pre-Screened Local Disaster Recovery Help

Disaster Recovery

Finding Loved Ones

If you are seeking loved ones in the wake of a hurricane, visit the American Red Cross’ Safe and Well website. There you can post names and view lists of those already posted. It is updated continuously.

filing disaster claim fema

FEMA office helps handle disaster claims.

Getting Assistance

Register for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.fema.gov.

Most Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week:

Avoiding Disease & Sickness

If you are in a affected area, protecting your health and safety is critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many important recommendations regarding handling of food, disinfecting water, preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, avoiding floodwater and mosquitoes, and much more.

Donations & Volunteers

If you want to help by contributing goods and services, call the hurricane hotline at 1-800-440-6728.

The current critical need is for monetary donations to assist organizations at work providing relief in affected areas. These include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others. Donations can also be made directly through the American Red Cross.

Safety With Food & Water

In the wake of a hurricane, the following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are critically important for people in affected areas.

Food

Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat, including:

* Food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.

* Canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.

* Food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

* Perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees F.

* Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degree F. or below can be refrozen or cooked. If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Re-label the cans with a marker.

Store food safely. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 48 hours. Wear heavy gloves when handling ice.

Water

Listen to and follow public announcements.Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning, or bathing.

To correctly boil or disinfect water, hold water at a rolling boil for one minute to kill any bacteria. If you can’t boil water, add 1/8 teaspoon (about 0.75 mL) of newly purchased, unscented liquid household bleach per gallon of water. Stir the water well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using it. You can also use water-purifying tablets instead of boiling water or bleach.

For infants, use only pre-prepared canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Clean children’s toys that have come in contact with floodwater, using a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water, and allow to air dry.

Get Pre-Screened Local Hurricane Recovery Help

Our Top 5 Fire Prevention Tips

Though summer is great for suntans and pool parties, hot, dry weather also ushers in a dramatic upturn in fire dangers. As weeds and vegetation become parched with thirst, they turn into ideal fuel for fires. house-safety

A lightning strike, a carelessly tossed cigarette, or an ember from a fire elsewhere may ignite a blaze that can destroy an entire neighborhood.

If you’ve watched a newscast of a fire raging through a neighborhood, you’ve probably noticed that some houses burn to the ground while others are spared. Why is that? In some cases it’s because a fire hydrant is nearby or the wind blows a certain direction, but in others it’s because the standing home’s family prepared properly.

There is no better time than now to make your home fire-safe and to develop a plan of action for your family to follow if a fire does occur. Here are recommendations from fire safety experts:

1Reduce nature’s fuel.
Without fuel, a fire won’t burn. So look around your house for potential sources of fuel and reduce them. Trees and plants that have a lot of dry foliage are particularly hazardous: Acacia, Cedar, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Pampas Grass, and Pine, to name a few. Keep them well pruned and avoid growing them in clusters.[GARD align=”right”]

Remove all flammable vegetation within 30 feet of a house or other structure, as well as piles of leaves or grass. In fact, it’s smart to thin or remove flammable vegetation to within 100 feet of structures. With tall trees, prune off branches lower than 6 feet from the ground.

2Move other fuel sources.
Don’t stack firewood next to your house; stack it at least 30 feet from structures. Also avoid placing lumber piles and other construction materials near your home. Locate fixed butane/propane tanks at least 10 feet away from structures or flammable vegetation.

3Prepare your house.
When it’s time to make choices about new roofing and siding materials, choose fire-resistant building materials such as asphalt-fiberglass or masonry roofing, particularly if you live in a fire-prone area. Unless properly treated with fire retardant, wood shingles and shakes are a clear invitation to disaster and are outlawed in many communities.

Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters and trim off dead branches that overhang your roof, chimney, and power lines. Be sure your chimney is equipped with a spark arrestor.

Wood decks can also be problematic because they offer a source of fuel with plenty of air circulation, which makes them burn all the better. Be sure to keep dry vegetation and trees trimmed away from decks.[GARD align=”right”]

Also beware of where you position a barbecue–don’t put it on a wood deck, beneath a patio overhead, or near flammable vegetation.

4Prepare your family.
Though the possibility of a fire in or around your home can be a scary thought, developing strategies for your family to follow in the event of a fire emergency isn’t just smart, it’s critical. Fire is one of the most immediately devastating home disasters. Begin by taking these steps:

Escape ladder, stored in second-story room, provides a second escape route.

Escape ladder, stored in second-story room, provides a second escape route.

* Develop an escape plan and practice it with a family drill. Everyone should know how to get out of the house and where to assemble safely outdoors. Establish who will be responsible for small children or the elderly or handicapped.

* Be sure each room has at least two exits that can serve as safe escapes. If one of these is an upper-story window, provide a hook-on fire escape ladder (available at home improvement centers). Be sure that even children know how to attach and climb down these ladders, and keep the ladder in an easily accessible place. (Of course, be sure they are not used unless there is a fire.)

* Check smoke detectors periodically to be sure they’re working properly. Fire departments recommend changing batteries twice a year—when you change your clocks to and from daylight savings time.

* Be sure your house numbers can be easily seen at night from the street.

Safe Electrical Practices
Minimize outlet extenders or plug-in power bars; these can overload an electrical circuit.

* Repair or replace worn, frayed, or broken electrical cords.

* Use only extension cords that match (or have a larger capacity than) the wattage of the appliances that you plug into them.

* Make sure receptacles and appliances are properly grounded.

* Check the maximum size of bulb allowable for lighting fixtures, and don’t exceed the maximum wattage. Be especially careful not to use improperly sized bulbs in recessed light fixtures because of heat buildup.

* Never replace a blown fuse with an improperly sized substitute. home-emergency-prepare-fire-extinguisher

* Keep two fire extinguishers in your home, one in the kitchen area or service porch and one in the garage, located in clear view, near the exit. Fire extinguishers are coded according to the types of fires they can extinguish. An “A-B-C” multipurpose extinguisher puts out all common types of fires. Be sure your extinguishers are large enough to handle home fires.

The minimum size to have on hand is classified “2A10BC” on the label. Periodically check your extinguishers to be sure they are fully charged; this is usually just a matter of looking at a small gauge mounted on the top of the unit.

At least once every five years have your extinguishers serviced by a qualified service person listed in the telephone directory under “Fire Extinguisher Repair.”

Fire Safety & Prevention

None of us wants to see our house go up in flames—nor even think about it—yet carelessness and ignorance about fire safety turn homes into tinderboxes every day. The good news is that smoke detectors, when correctly installed and used, now save many lives and homes that once would have been destroyed by fire.

Electrical Fire Hazards

One of the most frequent causes of house fires is electricity used carelessly or incorrectly. Check your home for these hazards:

* Outlet “extenders,” or “cube taps,” which can overload electrical circuits.what-to-do-in-a-fire

* Wrong size fuses

* Extension or other electrical cords that are frayed, have broken wires, or have brittle, worn insulation; replace them, don’t repair them.

* Receptacles and appliances that are not properly grounded; if your older home doesn’t have three-hole grounding receptacles, either upgrade its wiring or have an electrician check that your appliances are properly grounded, double insulated, or polarized (the last option requires polarized receptacles as well).[GARD align=”left”]

* Extension cords that are not matched to the wattage of the appliance plugged into them.

* Too many appliances plugged into an extension cord, which can overload the circuit.

* Bulbs in light fixtures that exceed the fixture’s wattage limit (if you don’t know the limit, use no more than 60-watt bulbs); recessed fixtures can be especially hazardous due to heat buildup.

Heat & Combustibles

Accidental fires can start if combustible materials are too close to a fireplace, stove, or heater. At the very minimum, these heat sources present a risk for burns. Check all these points:

* Keep combustibles such as trash, newspapers, and rags to a minimum. Keep any combustible material, including upholstery, curtains, and rugs, safely away from your water heater, fireplace, furnace, gas dryer, or any appliance that heats up.

* Make sure any portable electric space heaters have a UL (Underwriters Laboratory) mark. This ensures that the heater has a safety switch that automatically turns off if the heater tips over. The UL mark also ensures safe grille design to prevent fingers from reaching the element.

* Kerosene heaters are extremely hazardous if not adequately vented. Besides creating indoor pollution, they also pose a great fire hazard if tipped over. If you have this kind of heater, seriously consider replacing it with a safer model.

* Screen off radiators with fireplace screens, preferably bolted to the floor. Floor furnaces are extremely dangerous, with temperatures reaching up to 300 degrees F. Avoid using a floor heater when children are active in the house.

* Make sure that your fireplace has a secure screen, not just a mesh curtain, to keep sparks from flying out into the room. Or have a fireplace shop install glass fireplace doors.

* Make sure that installation of your wood stove or fireplace meets local building code specifications. Keep combustibles well away from both, and only burn firewood. To reduce the risk of burns from a wood stove, you can have a detachable screen custom-built—a costly solution. The best policy is not to fire it up until your child is a little older.

* Make sure your chimney is properly installed and has a spark arrestor on the chimney cap. Keep chimneys clean: A buildup of creosote on the fireplace’s inner walls can ignite during a hot fire. To avoid this, have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually, and have a mason inspect the chimney’s mortar and bricks.

* Many furnishings, draperies, and carpets are fire-resistant. Make sure that as many of yours as is practical are.

Seasonal Fire Safety at Home

Along with a lot of fun, many holidays and other special occasions can also add up to potential fire hazards. Fourth of July fireworks, Halloween jack-o-lanterns, birthday candles, luminarias, tiki torches—all involve an element of peril.[GARD align=”right”]

Whenever using any decoration that involves the use of fire, make sure the item is level, firmly grounded, and is not placed near or under any flammable object such as drapes and furniture, branches and leaves.

To avoid the most common and serious fire hazard, choose the freshest Christmas tree available; cut it down yourself if possible. Keep it outdoors until it’s time to trim, and keep it in a water-filled stand throughout the holiday.

Make sure lights have the UL mark. Take the tree down before it drops quantities of needles.

Never string lights on an artificial metal tree because of the danger of electrical shock.

 

Fire Safety & Prevention

None of us wants to see our house go up in flames—nor even think about it—yet carelessness and ignorance about fire safety turn homes into tinderboxes every day. The good news is that smoke detectors, when correctly installed and used, now save many lives and homes that once would have been destroyed by fire.

Electrical Fire Hazards

One of the most frequent causes of house fires is electricity used carelessly or incorrectly. Check your home for these hazards:

* Outlet “extenders,” or “cube taps,” which can overload electrical circuits.what-to-do-in-a-fire

* Wrong size fuses

* Extension or other electrical cords that are frayed, have broken wires, or have brittle, worn insulation; replace them, don’t repair them.

* Receptacles and appliances that are not properly grounded; if your older home doesn’t have three-hole grounding receptacles, either upgrade its wiring or have an electrician check that your appliances are properly grounded, double insulated, or polarized (the last option requires polarized receptacles as well).[GARD align=”left”]

* Extension cords that are not matched to the wattage of the appliance plugged into them.

* Too many appliances plugged into an extension cord, which can overload the circuit.

* Bulbs in light fixtures that exceed the fixture’s wattage limit (if you don’t know the limit, use no more than 60-watt bulbs); recessed fixtures can be especially hazardous due to heat buildup.

Heat & Combustibles

Accidental fires can start if combustible materials are too close to a fireplace, stove, or heater. At the very minimum, these heat sources present a risk for burns. Check all these points:

* Keep combustibles such as trash, newspapers, and rags to a minimum. Keep any combustible material, including upholstery, curtains, and rugs, safely away from your water heater, fireplace, furnace, gas dryer, or any appliance that heats up.

* Make sure any portable electric space heaters have a UL (Underwriters Laboratory) mark. This ensures that the heater has a safety switch that automatically turns off if the heater tips over. The UL mark also ensures safe grille design to prevent fingers from reaching the element.

* Kerosene heaters are extremely hazardous if not adequately vented. Besides creating indoor pollution, they also pose a great fire hazard if tipped over. If you have this kind of heater, seriously consider replacing it with a safer model.

* Screen off radiators with fireplace screens, preferably bolted to the floor. Floor furnaces are extremely dangerous, with temperatures reaching up to 300 degrees F. Avoid using a floor heater when children are active in the house.

* Make sure that your fireplace has a secure screen, not just a mesh curtain, to keep sparks from flying out into the room. Or have a fireplace shop install glass fireplace doors.

* Make sure that installation of your wood stove or fireplace meets local building code specifications. Keep combustibles well away from both, and only burn firewood. To reduce the risk of burns from a wood stove, you can have a detachable screen custom-built—a costly solution. The best policy is not to fire it up until your child is a little older.

* Make sure your chimney is properly installed and has a spark arrestor on the chimney cap. Keep chimneys clean: A buildup of creosote on the fireplace’s inner walls can ignite during a hot fire. To avoid this, have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually, and have a mason inspect the chimney’s mortar and bricks.

* Many furnishings, draperies, and carpets are fire-resistant. Make sure that as many of yours as is practical are.

Seasonal Fire Safety at Home

Along with a lot of fun, many holidays and other special occasions can also add up to potential fire hazards. Fourth of July fireworks, Halloween jack-o-lanterns, birthday candles, luminarias, tiki torches—all involve an element of peril.[GARD align=”right”]

Whenever using any decoration that involves the use of fire, make sure the item is level, firmly grounded, and is not placed near or under any flammable object such as drapes and furniture, branches and leaves.

To avoid the most common and serious fire hazard, choose the freshest Christmas tree available; cut it down yourself if possible. Keep it outdoors until it’s time to trim, and keep it in a water-filled stand throughout the holiday.

Make sure lights have the UL mark. Take the tree down before it drops quantities of needles.

Never string lights on an artificial metal tree because of the danger of electrical shock.