As the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors, it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of house fires. Luckily, you can take some simple steps to prevent a house fire this winter. Here are four tips to keep your home and family safe.
1. Keep Flammable Objects Away from Heat Sources
One way to prevent a house fire this winter is to keep flammable objects away from heat sources. Items like newspapers, draperies, magazines, and rugs can easily catch fire if they are too close to the fireplace, candles, or a space heater.
2. Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets to Prevent House Fire
In the winter, electrical outlets are used more often to power space heaters, holiday lights, and other appliances. While having multiple devices plugged into one outlet is convenient, this can be a fire hazard.
Overloaded outlets are one of the leading causes of house fires. When too many devices are plugged into one outlet, the wiring can overheat and start a fire. If using multiple devices or appliances, spread them out over different outlets.
3. Careful Use of Space Heaters
People use space heaters to keep their homes warm as the weather gets colder. Although space heaters are a great way to supplement the HVAC system, they can also be dangerous if not used correctly. Every year, house fires start because of space heaters. Here are a few tips for the safe usage of these appliances.
- Place the space heater on a level surface away from flammable materials like curtains or furniture.
- Do not leave the space heater unattended while it is on. Turn it off when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Never use extension cords with space heaters, as they can overheat and cause a fire.
- Keep children and pets away from the space heater to avoid them getting burned or knocking it over.
4. Inspect the HVAC System
As winter sets in, now is the time to inspect your home’s HVAC system to prevent a house fire. Hire a trained HVAC technician to check your furnace and make sure it’s clean. A dirty furnace can overheat and catch fire. The technician will inspect your vents and ductwork to ensure no blockages could cause the furnace to overheat.
5. Clean the Chimney to Prevent a House Fire
Have your chimney inspected by a professional before you start using it for the season. The professional will look for cracked bricks and mortar and materials – like pine needles, leaves, and animal nests – in the chimney that could catch fire.
When enjoying the fireplace, always use a fire screen. This will help catch any sparks or embers that might fly out of the fireplace and ignite materials nearby.
6. Use Candles with Care
The National Fire Protection Association reports that candles are responsible for an estimated 7400 house fires each year. Candles make a home feel cozy. But while candles can add ambiance, they also pose a fire hazard.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Keep candles away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, or bedding.
- Trim candle wicks to ¼ inch before each use. This will help prevent the flame from getting too big and reduce soot buildup on walls or ceilings.
- Use battery-operated candles instead.
Following these simple tips can help prevent a house fire this winter. In addition to taking these precautions, regularly test and maintain your smoke detectors. It is also important to plan what you will do if there is a fire in your home. Everyone in the family should know how to get out of the house safely and where to meet once outside. You can help keep your family safe all season long with a little effort.