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As the weather gradually heads into autumn, we start to think about spending more time indoors and safety from at-home accidents such as fires.

Any fire at home is a scary thought, but luckily there are things you can do yourself at home to prevent the risk of a fire from ever starting. While accidents can happen, learning how to avoid a fire from starting or knowing what to do to prevent it from spreading throughout your home is vital.

RELATED: TIPS FOR AVOIDING WILDFIRE SMOKE DAMAGE

Here is some advice on the best ways homeowners can remain proactive to keep their home safe from electrical, grease, and house fires.

Dust bunnies and sawdust

Remember to sweep up old dust bunnies, sawdust, and drywall dust when doing home improvement projects. These loose particles can be ignited by the smallest of sparks.

Inspect electrical system

Make sure all of your outlets and lighting switches are secure with no loose wires hanging. This includes any Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets are the ones in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and exterior with buttons in the center. You can test them by pressing the “test” button followed by pushing the “reset” button. These are usually found behind large appliances and other areas of the home where there are changes of an electrical surge. Doing this can be one of your best defenses against an electrical fire in your home.

Exposed or uncovered light bulbs

Lights without a protective cover are a fire safety concern since some bulbs (depending on the wattage) can burn upwards of 200-500 degrees Fahrenheit. A loose piece of clothing or curtain blowing in the wind can land on a lit bulb and cause a house fire.

Extension cords

Damaged cords and loose connections can cause electrical sparks that could melt the rubber or plastic protective cover. Make sure your cords are used properly and safely to prevent this type of electrical fire in your home.

Smoke and CO detectors

Replace the batteries in your smoke/CO alarms periodically. House fires can spread from room to room in a matter of seconds. A disconnected smoke/CO alarm or one with dead batteries increases the possibility of a total loss of your home and a potentially life-threatening situation.

Clean fan screens in kitchen hood vent

A clean fan screen above your kitchen stove can help prevent the potential for grease fires, a necessity for your home and family’s safety. A clogged filter can cause many other adverse effects in the home, like the build-up of smoke and grease particles. A simple solution of dish soap and water with a small scrub should do the trick. Pro tip: if your filters are metal, you can throw them in your dishwasher.

Clean out dryer vents

A clogged dryer vent is one of the most common causes of home fires. With a dryer vent brush (usually available at your local hardware store), sweep both sides of the surface of the dryer screen and inside the tube. This will clear up most of the lint build-up and will help drastically reduce your energy bill and lead to a longer-lasting unit.

Keeping things tidy around gas appliances

Place protective covers over the ignitor boxes of gas water heaters and dryers. When your water heater kicks on, the ignitor turns on as well, so clutter and lint can be a good fire starter if left near the spark. Another good housekeeping tip for appliances is to make sure your gas cooktop igniters are clean of grease to help prevent a kitchen fire.

Chimney sweep

A clean chimney is a happy chimney. The build-up of soot and debris can accumulate in a chimney, causing a fire hazard if not cleared out. Always make sure flammable items like blankets and curtains are pushed away from an open flame.

About the Author:

Hippo Insurance is an InsurTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners – building policies with more comprehensive coverage for today’s consumers at up to 20% less than competitors.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

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