Fire Safety: Stay Safe While Being Warm This Winter!

wood-fireplace-horizontalOctober is National Fire Prevention Month, and it’s easy to see why.  As the weather starts to turn colder and the natural light drops, we all tend to spend more time indoors, using more electricity and heat.  While this makes for a cozy environment in the home, it’s even more important to ensure that your house is protected against potential fire hazards.  Check out these great tips to make sure you’re on the right track to having a safe and happy winter!

  1. Check your fire and carbon dioxide detectors. Do all the batteries work? Make sure you have several detectors spread throughout the house and one posted in or outside of your bedroom.  If your house has multiple levels, make sure you have at least one detector on each.  It’s recommended they’re hung at least a foot below ceiling level.
  2. Figure out an emergency exit plan and make sure your house has clear pathways in case a fire starts. Fires can spread very quickly, so making sure that you can get easily out of the house is crucial. If you have children, practice the escape route and designate a spot to meet so that everyone can easily find each other.
  3. Make sure you have fire extinguishers.  Fire extinguishers are very important to have around, but they aren’t all the same- make sure you have one specific to grease and oil fires in the kitchen. The fireplace is another good area to have an extinguisher, particularly as the weather gets colder! Also make sure everyone in the family knows how to use them.
  4. Make sure that lightbulbs are the correct wattage for the lamp you’re using it in. Believe it or not, this is one of the leading causes of electrical fires!
  5. Check your electrical equipment for frayed wires, and make sure electrical outlets aren’t overloaded. Most houses have breaker boxes that will shut off electricity from an outlet if it gets overloaded, but older houses often have very outdated ones. With newer appliances requiring more electricity, it’s easier to overload the outlets on an older home.
  6. Make sure space heaters are placed at least 3 feet away from walls or materials that could catch fire. Coil space heaters are especially dangerous, because the coil gets so hot and can easily ignite anything combustible that it touches.
  7. Carefully inspect your fireplace, especially if you haven’t used it all year. Does it look sound from the outside? When looking up the chimney from inside the house, does it appear clear of combustible things, such as bird’s nests?  You should be able to see light if you have the damper open.  Make sure the firebox itself looks ok and that there aren’t any cracks or condensation.  If you see any- make sure to get it serviced before you use it.