No, it doesn’t get that cold in California in the winters, although the mountains do see snow this time of year. But we dare anyone to tell us they didn’t get shivers up their spine seeing photos and video of the snowstorm back East! Anyone? No, we thought not.
And even though us Californians don’t have much to worry about in the way of freezing temperatures, we are complete “weather wimps” and still bust out the space heaters and start up the fireplaces when the nights and mornings are chilly.
And if you are one of those people, please read our ten tips on how to stay safe while warming up those cold fingers and toes this winter season. And don’t worry—we live in California! It won’t last long.
- A furnace should be serviced at least once a year, so if it has been more than 12 months since you’ve had your furnace looked at by a professional, please call them to set up an appointment.
- Do you know what “creosote” is? It’s a tar created by burning wood, and it’s probably been built up in your chimney if you use real logs in your fireplace. Make sure you have your chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional, because creosote build-up is the leading cause of chimney fires. This cleaning should also be done once a year.
- Luckily, us Orange County folks are rarely out in the back forty chopping wood for the fire. We buy it at the grocery store, like the city dwellers we are. But some people buy it in bulk from sellers on the outskirts, in order to enjoy fires all winter long. Before you do, make sure the wood is dry and seasoned, otherwise you’ll get all sorts of nasty surprises when you try to start a fire.
- Did you buy a fancy or decorative fireplace screen at a department store or consignment shop? You should be extremely careful with your screen if you’re lighting real fires—it’s imperative that it is made of metal or heat-tempered glass, is in good condition and won’t fall over easily.
- Are you building a fire with real logs? Please don’t just dump those ashes anywhere. You need to wait until they’re cooled (like in the morning), and dispose of them in a covered metal container just for this purpose that’s kept at least 10 feet from your home and other buildings.
- Have you talked to your children about the fireplace and space heaters? Make sure they are aware that they need to keep at least three feet away from fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters. And keep the pets away too! They like warmth, and there’s many a cat and dog with a singed tail in winter.
- Speaking of portable space heaters, does yours have an automatic shut-off?
- Don’t use an extension cord for your space heaters—plug it directly into the wall socket, and place it at least three feet away from anything that can burn. That includes bedding, paper, walls, curtains and even PEOPLE.
- Test those smoke alarms! Did you know that you should have one in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on each level of your home. Plus, they should all be interconnected, so when one sounds, they all sound. Think that’s a pain to install? It’s nowhere near as painful as losing a loved one in a fire.
- If you have a carbon monoxide alarm, test that too. If not, please go out and buy one. There’s ones that have a ten-year battery life, so there’s no future fuss, just the potential to save lives.
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, so you might want to snuggle up with your loved one in front of a fire—and we don’t blame you! But please read our tips and take them to heart. Who knows? The one you save may be that sweetie sitting next to you.