It’s finally summer in the Northeast, and you know what that means. Vacationing, outdoor grilling, roasting marshmallows in the backyard fire pit, and even gardening around the house.
To help make the most of your summer fun, keep in mind five important tips to keep your home and property damage-free.
1. Grilling is fun (and tasty), but not too close to the house.
Did you know your grill should be at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, patio, deck, terrace or roof? In fact, 32% of grill fires occur on patios, terraces, and screened-in porches. Another 24% start on exterior balconies and unenclosed porches. It is reported that each year in the U.S., grill fires cause roughly $37 million in damage.
It’s important to use your grill in an open, outdoor area that is ventilated, away from trees, and away from your home. Wood railings and awnings can easily catch fire, and it only takes one spark for a small flame to spread.
Along with keeping your grill in a safe location, be sure to clean it regularly after use to avoid grease buildup. Also, regularly inspect your propane tank for leaks. If not, these oversights can also cause fire and damage to your home.
2. Roasting marshmallows? Make sure your fire pit is in a safe location.
Backyard fire pits — although they are great for roasting marshmallows, telling stories, and socializing with friends, you need to be careful around them. Just like a grill, your fire pit needs to be placed 10 feet away from your house and away from any trees and branches. Sparks and ashes can travel, catch, and cause quick property damage.
Also, it’s important to place your fire pit on a flat, even surface. If the fire pit is placed unevenly, there is a potential risk that ignited embers will spill and spread the fire.
Lastly, once you are done using your fire pit for the night, be sure to wait until it has completely cooled off before dumping any excess ash. The ash may still be hot enough to ignite a fire if you remove it too quickly.
3. Going on vacation? Prep your property first.
When you’re going away for vacation — even for a day — it’s important to take a bit of time to make sure your property is safe and secure to prevent any sudden accidents and disasters. Consider doing the following before you leave:
- Unplug your electronics and smaller appliances, such as the microwave, lamps, floor fans, gaming consoles, and computers, to prevent power surges.
- Leave your thermostat at a stable temperature.
- Shut off your water supply valves and check your supply lines to prevent flooding and water damage.
4. Cool off safely this summer.
An air conditioning unit in your home can be a source of both comfort and potential property damage if you do not look after it mindfully. For instance:
- Paper, leaves, gasoline, and other combustible materials can cause a fire if they are close or left next to the air conditioner.
- Dirt and dust particles can clog the air filter in the air conditioner and, in extreme cases, suck the filter into the unit, which can start a fire. This is why it is important to replace the air filter regularly.
5. Gardening? Take care of mulch.
Did you know that mulch can cause fires if not properly applied and cared for? Mulch is responsible for hundreds of small and large fires each year. Check out these tips below to avoid mulch fires:
- There needs to be at least an 18-inch clearance between landscape beds and wood, vinyl siding, and decks.
- Do not pile your mulch too deeply — no more than a few inches — as heat can build up underneath the surface and spontaneously catch fire.
- Keep mulch beds moist, especially in warm temperatures and dry conditions.
- Avoid disposing cigarette butts irresponsibly onto and around mulch.
Consider applying these tips to protect your home and property this summer. Our team hopes that by doing so, you will have less to occupy your mind and more time to enjoy the sun and warmth with family and friends!