As winter sets in and the temperature drops, we look forward to stoking a fire in the fireplace and getting cozy inside our homes. But with an increased use of heating equipment and appliances, there is also a heightened risk of fires. Here are helpful tips to prevent a house fire this winter.
How to Prevent a House Fire
1. Have the Chimney Inspected
During the winter season, it’s comforting to sit around the fire with a cup of cocoa, listening to holiday music. However, it’s essential to get the chimney inspected by a professional before lighting a fire. Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, can build up inside the chimney and ignite, putting your home at risk. Remove leaves, animal nests, and soot buildup by having the chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
2. Prevent a House Fire: Check the Heating Appliances
Before winter sets in, inspect your heating appliances for damage. Faulty heating systems can start a fire, so it’s essential to inspect and repair or replace them if they seem unsafe. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the use of the heater. Keep flammable materials such as furniture, curtains, and bed linens away from any heat source. Turn off space heaters when leaving the house or going to bed.
3. Be Careful in the Kitchen
Unattended stovetops and ovens are responsible for many kitchen fires. Stay in the kitchen while cooking, and never leave the stove or oven on if you leave the house. Keep the cooking appliances – including the stove, microwave, and toaster oven – clean, and don’t place anything flammable next to an appliance that’s in use.
4. Check for Damaged Wires to Prevent a House Fire
Damaged wires on appliances and electronics are a leading cause of house fires. Check your electronic devices, household appliances, and space heaters for frayed or cracked wiring, and use only the right capacity of plugs and electrical cords.
5. Careful Use of Holiday Lighting
If using holiday lights, inspect them for damage before installing them. Never run electrical cords under rugs, as they may overheat and lead to a fire. When hanging lights outdoors, verify they are intended for outdoor use.
Candles are popular decorations in the home, especially around the winter holidays. When burning candles, place them on a stable, fire-resistant surface. Extinguish candles when leaving the house or before going to bed.
6. Test the Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are your first line of defense in a house fire. They provide an early alert to warn your family of smoke and flames. Test them monthly and replace the batteries twice yearly. Clean the devices at least once a month to remove dust that can affect the sensor.
During the colder months, we spend more time indoors, cook more frequently, and use heating sources. We want to stay comfortable and warm, but the risk of a house fire increases. Keep your home safe by being proactive in fire prevention. Taking simple steps reduces the chances of a house fire this winter.