From Across the Field – Holiday Safety Tips

Hopefully everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend. I certainly enjoyed spending time with family on the farm, and watching the Buckeyes put a spanking on TTUN. Back home everyone is fighting the mud when it comes to finishing harvest and feeding livestock. We currently have about 55 head of cattle on pasture, thankfully we can feed them all out of the mud on a concrete lot near a barn. At my brother’s house we are having some of our “early” season lambs. There is not near as much mud around the sheep, however the soft ground sure does make it tough to haul manure.

Last week I wrote about picking out a Christmas tree, so as we start decorating those trees keep safety in mind. It seems every year tragedy strikes when a home burns down around the holidays. In some cases, this can be avoided. As one could expect, candles are one of the most common causes of house fires. So during this time of the year, make sure we do not have lit candles near trees, other greens, decorations, or wrapping paper. Also, place candles where they cannot be blown over or knocked down. While they are wonderful to have, be very careful with them.

If you have a fresh tree, make sure it has plenty of water. With lights, check the cord for cracks or exposed wire. Use no more than three standard-size sets of light per single extension cord. Never use lights on a metallic tree, as the tree can become charged from a faulty light, and a person could be shocked or electrocuted.

When burning wood in the fire place we also need to be careful.  When wood burns, the combustion process is never absolutely complete. The smoke produced usually contains a substance called creosote. This is the dark brown or black build up on the inside of the stove pipe or chimney flue. Creosote is very flammable and if a thick coating is allowed to form in the stove pipe or chimney, one is at risk of a damaging and dangerous chimney fire.  To control creosote build-up, deliberately burn a hot fire for 15 to 30 minutes each day with dry, well-seasoned wood. All stoves and flues should be regularly inspected for any signs of creosote accumulations.

Plan for safety, and use common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and electrical connections, and have a safe and prosperous holiday season. My mother annually reminds me of a lapse of common sense during the Christmas season from my younger, more reckless days. As learned through personal trial and error, do not try to change a fuse in a lit set of Christmas lights with a screwdriver, as it will be a shocking experience. I’ll end this week with a quote from John Ruskin: “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”

Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
OSU Henry County Extension

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *