As the air turns cooler and leaves drop from the trees, it's important to keep a few fall safety tips in mind. From roasting s'mores over a bonfire to jumping into piles of dry, crunchy leaves, there are a lot of secret fall dangers you might not realize. Learn about what precautions to take so your family can enjoy that crisp autumn weather while avoiding long trips to the ER that could come with the season.
7 Fire Safety Tips for Fall
When the weather turns cold, you probably spend a lot of time indoors using fireplaces, furnaces, and heaters to keep warm. There's nothing quite as cozy as a fire, but it presents some safety hazards (cough Fourth of July fireworks mishaps cough). So, it's best to keep these tips in mind.
Service Your Furnace
Before the cold autumn and winter weather sets in, be sure to call your heating and cooling company to service your furnace. A specialist should inspect the furnace to make sure everything is in working order and that there are no leaks. As the seasons change, heating/cooling companies can get booked up pretty quickly, so consider giving them a call before the summer is over to schedule your maintenance ahead of time.
Use Fireplaces Safely
Keep that fire in its proper place by using a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying out and catching your decorations, trees, or even pets on fire. Never leave a burning fire unattended and make sure that the fire in your fireplace is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
If you know you're going to be using your fireplace a lot this fall, go ahead and pick up a fire extinguisher. Leave it near your fireplace (maybe alongside your fireplace tools) so it's on-hand should you ever need it.
Use Caution With Space Heaters
A space heater is an effective way to warm up a chilly room, but it's essential that you read the instructions on the unit before you use it. If your space heater requires venting, make sure you've vented it to the outdoors. Always allow at least three feet of empty area around any space heaters you set up. While we're on the topic, never use your stove or oven to heat your home—it's a gas leak or fire hazard waiting to happen.
Reconsider Leaf Burning
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, burning leaves produce harmful and cancer-causing chemicals. Because of this and the chance for burning far more than the pile you intended, homeowners should avoid getting rid of leaves by setting them ablaze. Also, some states have regulations and bans concerning leaf burning, so check with your state government's website to see what the rules are.
If you decide to burn leaves, wear a protective mask. You should only attempt to burn leaves far away from your house or other structures on your property. Always check the weather forecast before starting to burn leaves; if it's calling for wind, don't start the fire.
And remember, never put lighter fluid or gasoline on your leaves. It's the fastest way to set the whole neighborhood on fire.
Exercise Candle Caution
Candles are a great way to give a room that cozy warm glow, but they can also cause fires. According to the National Candle Association, almost 10,000 home fires start because of improper candle use. We're sure you know what that really means—never leave candles burning if you go out or go to sleep, and keep your candles away from pets and kids.
Change Smoke Alarm Batteries
This is your friendly reminder to check/change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors after you turn back your clocks at the end of Daylight Saving Time. Don't just put the new batteries in—double check that the alarms are working.
Keep Fire Extinguishers on-Hand
While you're on the fire-fighting front, check and replace any fire extinguishers that are expired. It's the season for big homemade feasts, and there's bound to be oil involved. Not every fire extinguisher is oil/grease safe, so make sure you have at least one Class K extinguisher around.
5 Safety Tips for Fall Driving
There's nothing more beautiful than a fall drive, but this rainy season can bring some unique hazards to our drives that we don't encounter every day. Being aware of these potential dangers can help keep you and your family safe and prevent accidents.
Be Aware of Poor Visibility
Falling leaves, while beautiful, can obscure your vision, as can rain and fog. Shorter days are part of the fall season, making it more difficult to see children playing or people walking and riding bicycles. Be aware if you've got lower visibility and slow down if you can't see well before something comes into your line-of-sight. Use your dimmed headlights in bad weather with decreased visibility. If possible, try not to be on the roads when it's hard to see.
It doesn't matter how dark outside it is; if it's foggy, don't put on your high beams. This can decrease other people's visibility and won't really help with your own.
Watch for Children
Children love to play in piles of leaves, so use extra caution when leaves are piled at curbside. In addition, the school bus will be making its rounds now that school is back in session. While kids should be taught how to properly play near the roads, you can't trust that they'll know what to do when the time comes. Kids, like deer, often freeze, so you have to be the vigilant one as the adult and driver.
Slow Down on Wet Pavement
In many areas of the country, rain is the less idyllic precipitation that comes falling from the sky. If it's raining, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Wet roads make it more difficult to stop. When wet leaves are on roadways, they make the pavement slippery, and it can be difficult for drivers to get good traction.
Be Prepared for Bright Sunlight
Sunrise may be pretty, but it can also present challenges for drivers. If you can, have a pair of sunglasses (prescription or otherwise) in your car to wear if the sun starts glaring. If it becomes too difficult to see because of bright sunlight or glare, pull over or into a parking lot until the sun has moved.
Watch Out for Ice
As the temperatures drop further at night, a driver will need to spend some extra time in the morning scraping frost off their vehicle. Shady spots on the roadway may be home to black ice, which a driver may not be aware of until the car starts to skid. Hydroplaning is a serious concern for wet and icy conditions, and unless you've hydroplaned before, you won't know how you're going to react.
Once you start to feel the tires lose traction, take your foot off the gas and gently keep control of the steering wheel, trying to maintain your position in the lane. Never jerk the wheel in reaction and try not to brake at all. But, if you must brake in an area that might have black ice, brake in short, successive pumps to slow the car down without losing as much traction.
4 Safety Tips for Fall Boaters
According to the 2022 Recreational Boating Statistics report, autumn and winter boating accidents are far more likely to be fatal than those that happen during the summer months. Although there are many more boating accidents in summer, boaters involved in accidents during the fall months are exposed to cold water and other weather hazards. Keep these tips in mind to have a fun but safe autumn boating experience.
Be Prepared for Changing Weather
Since fall weather can change quickly, you should always be prepared for possible cold, windy, and wet weather, even if the sun is shining. Instead of seeing how far out to the horizon you can get, stay closer to shore, so you can turn back if the weather changes. Keep warmer clothes, such as coats, rain gear, and gloves, on board in case a cold snap comes through while you're at sea.
Watch for Signs of Hypothermia
Small open boats combined with cold, wet weather can lead to possible hypothermia. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are a few of the signs you should watch out for:
- Shivering or trembling
- General lack of coordination, including stumbling and dropping things
- Drowsiness, confusion, and apathy
- Mumbling and slurring of words
- Weak pulse and shallow breathing
Tell Others About Your Trip
Make sure you tell a friend or family member your boating plan and when you're expecting to come back. There are fewer boaters in the fall to help in the case of an accident or emergency, so having someone who can keep track of you is the fastest way to get help in the case of an emergency.
Always Wear Life Jackets
Wearing your life jacket, while always a smart move, is even more important in the fall. If you should accidentally fall overboard, the cold water will quickly drain away your strength and cognition, making it much harder for you to get out of the situation.
3 Autumn Home Maintenance Safety Tips
It's not quite winter yet! Which means that we're still kicking about our lawns and backyards for a few more months. Fall is the time for yard clean-ups and readying your house for the cold winter ahead. These are some good safety tips to keep in mind as you prep.
Look Up Before Pruning Trees
If you've decided that your trees need a good trimming, be sure to look up and survey the area carefully before you start. Make note of where power lines are located before you set up your ladder so that it's positioned away from them. Also, in good ladder form, try to only use a ladder with another person holding it steady.
Use Caution on Ladders
Wearing appropriate footwear is important when using a ladder; shoes or boots may be wet, causing you to slip as you climb the ladder. You should always place a ladder on a flat surface before using it. Be sure that the tools you're using are specifically designed for their purpose and are in good condition before starting work.
Also, it goes without saying, but never stack ladders on top of each other. If you don't have a ladder tall enough to reach something, then you need to find or borrow one and not MacGyver your way into an ER visit.
Clean Up Fallen Leaves
Keep your driveway and walkway clear of falling leaves. Wet leaves can be a fall hazard by making sidewalks slippery. Later in the season, snow may mix with leaves to increase this high risk of falling. So, to be kind to yourself and others. Mulch or rake up fallen leaves and dispose of them according to your local bylaws.
2 'Fall Back' Safety Tips
The fall is when we we're blessed with getting to set our clocks back an hour. And while we get brighter mornings, which mean easier commutes, we also get shorter days. With this November change can come some unexpected dangers that these tips will help you avoid.
Keep Reflective Clothing in Your Closet
If you're an evening runner or only have time to take your pets for late-night walks, then the best way to keep yourself and the kids safe is by wearing reflective clothing. As the fall progresses, sunset will get earlier and earlier, meaning cars will have reduced visibility and can pose a greater risk.
Check Your Car Headlights
If you commute for work, chances are you'll be driving home in the dark before fall is over. Instead of relying on spotty street lights or getting a steep ticket, check your headlights and brake lights before you fall back. That way, you've already replaced everything long before it's a problem.
Safely Enjoy Everything Autumn Has to Offer
From hay rides and Halloween to turkey dinners and family visits, there are so many things to look forward to in the fall. And if you want to stay away from the hospital or keep your call logs devoid of any 911s, then keep these important fall safety tips in mind. The fall is supposed to be fun, and staying safe can be, too.