Around the Home

  • CFLs: Don’t Bake All Bulbs

    Oven lights are handy. Curious if a casserole’s ready? Flip the switch; no need to open the oven and release heat to get a baking update. But be careful when replacing this little light and never put a bulb in the oven that’s not built for high heat, such as a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL).

    While CFLs are a great option to reduce energy use in your home when compared to classic incandescent bulbs, they’re not a safe alternative when it comes to extreme temperatures. Why won’t CFLs work? Instead of heating a filament until white-hot to produce light like an incandescent bulb, a fluorescent lamp contains a gas that produces ultraviolet (UV) light when excited by electricity. The UV light and the white coating inside the bulb result in visible light. Since CFLs don’t use heat to create light, they are 75 percent more energy efficient, but this same technology that cuts energy use doesn’t stand a chance in an oven’s 400+ degree heat.

    If you find yourself needing to replace an oven light, look for an appliance light bulb that is designed for extreme temperatures in ovens and refrigerators. Also, keep these other safety tips in mind when it comes to using CFLs around your home:

    1. Don’t dim unless it’s dimmable. Buy a specifically designed CFL for a dimmer switch application
    2. Give them air. CFLs may be used in enclosed fixtures as long as the enclosed fixture is not recessed. Totally enclosed recessed fixtures create temperatures too high for CFLs.
    3. Protect CFLs outside. Look at the package or bulb for temperature restrictions before using a CFL outdoors.
    4. Do the twist. Always screw and unscrew the lamp by its base. Never forcefully twist the glass tubes of the CFL into a light socket.

    CFLs are a great way to save energy in your home, but just make sure you’re using them correctly. And as always, if you want to recycle your CFLs after their use, you can drop them off in a sealed zip-top bag for recycling at any of our service centers.

  • Having a Disaster Plan

    Where will your family be if a disaster strikes? They could be anywhere – at work, at school or even in the car. How will you find each other? Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so now is the time to plan in advance how you contact one another, get back together and what to do in different situations. Below are some important items to remember when preparing your plan:

    • Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family.
    • Locate a safe room or the safest area in your home. In certain circumstances the safest area may not be in your home but within your community.
    • Determine escape routes from your home and know your meeting place.
    • Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, allowing all your family members to have a single point of contact.
    • Make a plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones or program them in your cell phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
    • Check your insurance coverage especially since flood damage is not always covered by homeowners insurance.
    • Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit.
    • Use a NOAA weather radio and replace its battery every six months.
    • Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
    • Assign everyone in your family a list of preparation activities, or allot a substantial amount of lead time if you don’t have anyone to help you.

    Meet with your family to create a disaster plan then practice and maintain it. The best plan in the world won’t do you or your family much good if no one can remember it. Be smart – be prepared – be responsible and most importantly, be safe.

  • Cooking Up Safety

    The kitchen is the one place in the home where people tend to gather, prepare favorite recipes and share warm memories – but it’s also the location where two-thirds of all home fires start. Use these safety tips to identify and correct potential hazards before someone gets hurt.

    • Keep the cooking area around the stove/oven clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins and pot holders.
    • Locate all appliances away from the sink and plug counter top appliances into ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
    • Store appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster. Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.
    • Make sure there is room behind the refrigerator for air to circulate. Vacuum refrigerator coil every three months to eliminate dirt buildup that can reduce efficiency and create a fire hazard.
    • Any electric shock from a major appliance can indicate an extremely hazardous wiring condition. Turn the power to the appliance off at the circuit breaker and do not touch the appliance until it has been checked by a licensed, qualified electrician.
    •  Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet – water can damage the motors in electrical appliances like freezers and refrigerators.

    A healthy respect for electricity and a basic knowledge of electrical safety practices in the kitchen can help keep your home and family safe from electrical hazards. Enjoy your meals, but remember to keep safety first.