Using Your Home’s Outside Space Safely as the Weather Grows Cold
Outside is the safest place to entertain during the Coronavirus Pandemic, so many people have been gathering on porches and patios. As November approaches, the average temperature will fall down to the 50’s in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, but it is not time to hibernate. With a sweater or light jacket, you can still enjoy some quality time with family and friends.
Light the Way
Festive outside lighting has already become the norm in many neighborhoods, although the winter holidays have not arrived. Colorful lights are an easy way to make your house look welcoming. Orange lights create the look of autumn for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Whether you’ve already hung up some lights or you are about to begin, a few safety precautions will prevent electric shocks and fires.
Safe Outdoor Lighting Tips
1) Outdoor lighting should always be plugged into outdoor receptacles. Do not run a cord through a doorway or window into your house. Plug into outdoor weather-resistant receptacles that have special outdoor covers and are able to withstand dampness, freezing, and heat. They will be rated as weather-resistant.
2) The outlets you plug into should have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter(GFCI) protection. GFCI is required for sockets in any location that may be exposed to water such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and garages. If the wiring that feeds into your outdoor receptacle does not have GFCI protection you’ll need to upgrade it to a GFCI weather resistant receptacle.
3) Use outdoor rated extension cords that are designed to withstand wetness.
4) Use decorative lighting that is manufactured for outdoor use. The labeling should say “outdoor” or “indoor/outdoor.” If it only says “indoor” it can only be used inside.
5) Keep flammable items such as straw or paper, away from your lights and use LED bulbs which generate less heat.
Entertaining Outside During Fall
Gathering around a firepit in the backyard, making use of outside heaters on the patio and even using a turkey fryer are ways to focus the action outside. Try to set up chairs and tables to allow for social distancing and keep any combustible items at least three feet away from any heat source.
Keep Your Distance
While people are intentionally standing at least 6 feet apart, you’ll also want everyone to stay three feet away from the turkey fryer. Make certain children and pets are closely supervised around fire pits and patio heaters.
Fire Extinguishers Put Out Fires and Save Lives.
Always have a fire extinguisher available and know how to use it. Many families already have one in their kitchen for grease fires, but it is important to have an extinguisher located near grills, firepits, patio heaters, and turkey fryers. Extinguishers cost as little as $20, a small investment to prevent a fire. Check the safety UL rating and keep your extinguishers up to date. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, rechargeable fire extinguishers must be recharged every 6 years, and disposable extinguishers replaced every 12 years.
Safety Tips for Outside Heaters
Patio heaters can be powered by electricity or gas and it is very important you read the safety manual that comes with your specific heater. If you purchase a used heater, the safety manual is usually available online.
1) While the manufacturer will provide recommendations on placement, do not forget to check for items above and below the heater. Ceiling, awnings, and the floors may be susceptible to heat damage.
2) While keeping your electric or gas heater three feet away from anything flammable, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t tip over. Sandbags and water weights are two options, but the manufacturer may have other suggestions.
3) Do not operate a gas or an electric heater during a rainstorm or winds of over 10 mph and be certain to shut it down when no one is present.
Safety Tips for Fire Pits
1) Check the wind direction before lighting a fire.
2) Do not use flammable fluids such as lighter fluid or gasoline or light or relight fires.
3) Safely dispose of the ashes when you are done. Once the ashes have cooled, place them in a metal container and cover them with water.
Safety Tips for Using a Turkey Fryer
First thoroughly read the instruction guide that will give you specific information about your turkey fryer and always protect your eyes and your hands with safety glasses and oven mitts.
1) Locate your fryer on the ground- several feet away from any structures, including trees. Never use it on a deck, porch or inside a garage. Check wind direction before lighting a fire and do not use if the wind is over 10 mph.
2) Place the fryer on a level surface and leave two feet between the tank and the burner if you are using a propane-powered fryer.
3) Never leave a fryer unattended and if you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
4) Choose a small turkey, 8-10 pounds and turn the burner off before lowering the turkey into the oil. Then you can turn it on the burner again. When your cooking is complete, wait until the oil is completely cool ( usually overnight) before disposing.
Stay Safe While Socializing
If you decide to extend the season by entertaining at a distance on your patio or porch, do it safely. And remember, if you have any questions about homeowner’s or liability insurance call us at The Crilly Insurance Agency. We will be happy to answer your questions.