Start the party with safe electronic installation. The last thing you want is a guest knocking the plasma screen off the entertainment center and into the aquarium. Check your television, sound equipment, and other electronics, making sure they are securely mounted on TV stands, shelving and entertainment centers using appropriate hardware.
Verify that the furniture in your party area is stable on its own, particularly if kids are on the guest list (they love climbing on shelves and tables). Anchor furniture to the wall or floor to prevent it from being pulled over or knocked down.
It's tempting to run extension cords underneath the rug so your guests don't trip on them and kids don't grab them, but the wiring can become worn, overheat, and pose a fire hazard. Instead, get a longer cord and route it along the walls and out of high traffic areas, and position cords out of children's reach. In addition, don't use extension cords that are cut or damaged.
The extra set of speakers, additional lighting, and maragarita blender may seem a great idea, until they are plugged in and flip an electrical breaker or start a fire. Don't plug too many cords into an outlet or power strip, and read the manufacturer's instructions for the electric equipment and appliances you plan to use for your party.
For those summer cookouts or adventurous winter grilling, keep the grill outdoors and a safe distance from the house (about 10 feet). Grilling indoors or in enclosed spaces poses a fire hazard as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended. If you must momentarily leave the kitchen (or walk away from the grill), carry an oven mitt or another cooking utensil with you as a reminder that something is cooking.
First, invite a manageable number of guests to avoid overcrowding your home. Then limit the number of people in high-risk areas, such as the near the kitchen stove or grill. This is especially important if kids are invited to the party.
For family-friendly get-togethers, remove items that might tempt kids to climb, like toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
As you are rearranging furniture and decorating for your party, get down on your hands and knees to search each room for objects or situations that may endanger children who will be at your home. Pay particular attention to sharp corners and small objects, and be sure pathways are clear of toys, rugs or other items that could cause children (and adults) to trip.
Keeping your home safe should be a year-round mission. Be sure to purchase only products that have been tested for safety. For example, look for the UL Mark on electronics; products that bear the UL Mark mean representative samples have been tested to UL's rigorous safety standards and found to be free of foreseeable safety hazards.
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