Spring Clean Your Chimney: A Clean Sweep for Safety

Chimney Sweep Safety

Clean safely – always wait about 24 hours after the last use before you attempt to clean the chimney.

Spring has a wonderful sense of renewal to it, so it’s no wonder you’ll find many a home owner and renter taking advantage of those Spring showers days and cleaning the house from head-to-toe. If you have a chimney in your home, it’s high time you performed a regular chimney cleaning, especially if you’ve been burning cozy fires all winter long. Cleaning your chimney is never quite a welcome task, but just as we want you to be safe in all your weekend warrior tasks, we want you and your family to be safe from the risk of carbon monoxide, too!

Chimney Cleaning Safety Supplies

The first step to ridding your chimney of excess soot and creosote is to: read the directions! It’s tempting to just grab the supplies and get on up in there, but it’s going to be a whole lot easier to get the in-the-know tips from someone who has done it before, or read an instructional manual. In addition to all the supplies you’ll need to clean the chimney, think safety – you’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes from soot falling around you, DeWalt gloves built for tricky jobs like this, and a particulate respirator so you don’t breathe in all that soot, either!

Chimney Cleaning Tips and Tricks

  1. One of the best ways to make cleaning the chimney as painless as possible is prevention: dust the hearth weekly. This prevents soot from building up in the future, allowing for an easier chimney cleaning next time around.
  2. Clean safely – always wait about 24 hours after the last use before you attempt to clean the chimney. Wearing safety equipment, like safety goggles, gloves, and a respirator, might seem like it’ll get in the way of getting the job done, but you won’t have to worry about dust irritating your eyes or coughing and blowing soot all around you. Safety will simplify your chimney cleaning.
  3. Creosote is one type of chimney build-up – and very dangerous. It’s highly flammable, and can quickly lead to a fire in your chimney. Prevent creosote build-up by burning only well-dried wood intended to be used in your fireplace.
  4. Minimize soot build-up. Although it’s considered a normal build-up in your chimney, you can still take steps to minimize the amount of soot in your chimney. First, never pour water over burning embers – it’ll simply create a shower of ashes, plastering them on the walls of your chimney. Same goes for abrasive cleaners – you may think they’ll make chimney cleaning a whole lot easier, but they’ll actually lay the foundation for a dangerous chimney fire.

We’ll be Spring cleaning the Safety Glasses USA offices and the chimneys in our own homes, and you can bet we’ll be following these chimney cleaning safety tips and making it, well, a clean sweep! Make a commitment to keep chimney dust out of your eyes by wearing safety goggles – and build-up out of your chimney – this Spring.

Are You Prepared For An Emergency? 5 Steps To Be Sure

Emergency Supplies

Proper preparation can make the difference between surviving and being a victim.

USA Today records 2011 as the Costliest Year in World Disasters. What were those disasters? A tsunami (Japan), earthquakes (Turkey, US East Coast & New Zealand), tornadoes (Central U.S.), typhoons (Japan & Philippines), a volcanic eruption (Southern Chile), flooding (North Dakota, Thailand, Brazil, El Salvador, Australia, Pakistan, & Spain), a hurricane (U.S. East Coast), drought (East Africa, Somalia & China), wildfires (Canada) and winter storms (Europe). If any of these disasters happened in your area, would you be prepared?

If you had to leave your home suddenly (perhaps because of a natural disaster, chemical spill or even an explosion at a nearby business), would you be able to grab and go quickly?

A USA Today Gallup Poll showed that 42% of people don’t have enough food and water stocked in case of an emergency, and 27% don’t have an extra supply of medications. In addition 40% do not have a central contact person in case of a disaster, and 18% don’t even have a first-aid kit. These are all steps that the Federal Emergency Management Agency says are “basic disaster preparations.”

Where do you fall in those numbers?

Fortunately, creating a basic emergency kit and plans for what to do in an emergency are not that difficult and really don’t take an inordinate amount of time compared to the tremendous benefit they can provide in an emergency. Take the following 5 steps to make sure you and your family are prepared for an emergency.

  1. Believe you are at risk. The American Red Cross says that the main reason people fail to prepare for an emergency is because they fail to believe they are at risk. Emergencies can happen anywhere and at anytime, so be proactive by preparing for an emergency.
  2. Be aware and share. As with safety in any area, from wearing safety glasses to following safety procedures, awareness is a key component of being prepared. The American Red Cross provides a variety of emergency-specific checklists as a way to have and share preparedness information.
  3. Prepare to be self-sufficient. Create a basic emergency kit that is waterproof, easily accessible and mobile. In addition, create a Go-Bag to hold additional necessities.
  4. Maintain your preparedness. Check your supplies every six months and reassess your needs yearly. Maintain your kit regularly so it is safe to use when needed.
  5. Consider preparedness for other locations. While workplaces, schools and daycares are responsible to a great extent for employee safety and safety of those in their care, this is not a fact that should be depended upon should a large-scale natural or other disaster happen. Create emergency plans for the places where you and your family spend the most time (school, work, daycare, etc.) in addition to the site-specific plans that should already be in place.

Not only does lack of preparation for an emergency affect you and your family in significant ways, it also affects an already-taxed emergency response system. And 2012 does not appear to be improving over last year; if anything, 2012 will eclipse 2011 with natural disasters. (In January and February 2012, Australia experienced severe flooding, Mozambique a typhoon, and Europe severe winter weather with over 600 dead). While no one can prevent natural disasters, almost everyone can be prepared. The steps above are the starting point for doing just that.

Note: See a related article Everyday Carry for the Car to find out how many people prepare and what experts recommend for vehicles in emergencies. Also related are Everyday Carry for Men and Everyday Carry for Women, which reveal what men and women feel are essential items to always have with them.

Lab Safety 101: Small Safety Glasses, Hazardous Chemicals, and More!

Bolle Nitro Small Goggles

Smaller goggles like the Bolle Nitro are designed for small faces and provide better protection.

No matter your age, doesn’t it seem like just yesterday you were in junior high or high school, and carrying out experiments in biology or chemistry lab? You probably wore those hulking clear safety glasses with the rubber band backs, those gloves that were just always too big, and lab aprons that just hung off of you. Yet, you managed to get through it without any mishaps (thankfully!), and you’re excited to see your own children participate in biology and chem labs. You want your kids to be even safer than you were in lab, so let’s pull out our pencils and take notes on Lab Safety 101!

#1: The Better The Fit, The More Safe Your Child Is.
It’s no secret that ill-fitting lab safety equipment just isn’t going to do a whole lot when it comes to your child’s safety. Plus, who wants to wear those huge clear safety glasses for an hour…in junior high school, of all places?! Instead, pick out a pair of Small Safety Glasses with your child – they’re designed to fit smaller faces, and come in colors ranging from blue to pink, and even purple. Oh, and did we mention they’re ANSI Z87.1-2003 certified, to boot? Lab safety glasses, the SafetyGlassesUSA.com way!

#2: Save the eating and drinking for the cafeteria.
Kids have ravenous appetites, don’t they? Explain the importance of holding their appetite until they reach the cafeteria – at least when it comes to lab class! Take note – there’s a much greater likelihood that your child will accidentally taste something he or she isn’t meant to, if they’re already eating or drinking in their lab.

#3: Long hair and flames just don’t mix.
Working with a Bunsen burner? It’s so much fun to use them, but you don’t want to risk your child singeing his or her hair. On lab days, be sure to tuck an extra hair tie in their bag for them, and let them know what it’s there for. Be sure their small safety glasses are packed, too!

#4: Assume all chemicals are hazardous.
We teach our kids to “never assume”, but when it comes to working in the lab, it’s better to assume that each and every chemical on the shelf is hazardous. This helps kids from innocently testing out what that water-like chemical tastes like, only to discover it wasn’t water at all.

#5: The golden rule: Pour acids into water.
Remember your teacher repeating this one over and over to you? Your child’s teacher is likely doing the same, but it never hurts to hear it from you, too. Doing the opposite and pour water into acid will cause the water to explode into steam, which could cause burns and noxious fumes, even while wearing small safety glasses.

Junior high and high school biology and chemistry labs are memories we’ll never forget, and we know you want your children to reflect back on the frogs and beakers and have only positive memories. You’ll get an A+ in lab safety for choosing small safety glasses, like our Crews Blackjack Elite Safety Glasses, for your child. Brrrring goes the school bell – time to head to lab class!