How to Protect Your Home From Fires in the Winter

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From delicious home-cooked dinners to snuggling up next to the fireplace on a snowy night, the winter months are full of ways to stay warm at home. It’s important keep fire safety in mind while you are keeping yourself and your family protected from the winter elements. Take a look at a few ways you can keep the cold away, but stay safe, at home this winter.

Cooking

Everyone loves a home-cooked meal in the winter months, but it’s important to understand what common fire dangers lurk in your home, and more specifically, in the kitchen. The National Fire Protection Association reports that the leading reason fires start in the kitchen is unattended cooking (and most fires involve the stovetop). To stay safe when you are cooking:

  • Keep flammable items, like kitchen towels, food packaging, and wooden utensils away from flames and hot stovetops.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are using the stovetop, and be at home when you are using the oven.
  • Keep kids at least 3 feet from the stove when you are cooking or carrying hot food and beverages.
  • If you are fatigued or have consumed alcohol, avoid cooking.

Candles

This common home décor item is especially popular in the winter months – but it can be dangerous, and even deadly, year round. Candles are basically just a glorified open flame in the middle of your house. If you decide to light one, keep these fire safety tips in mind:

  • Keep all candles at least one foot away from anything that could catch on fire.
  • Never leave a candle burning when you go to bed, or leave the house.
  • Don’t leave children unattended with candles (or matches, or lighters).

Heating

Keeping your home warm in the winter months is non-negotiable. Furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters – they are all ways to stay warm and comfortable in your home. But did you know that half of all heating fires happen in December, January, and February? Ensure that these heating elements that are meant to keep you healthy don’t actually harm you by:

  • Keeping kids far away from any heating units or equipment. Create at least a three-foot safety zone.
  • Avoiding the use of your oven to heat your home.
  • Having all heating equipment and chimneys regularly inspected and maintained by professionals.
  • Keeping all flammable items three feet or more away from all water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, or anything that is meant to heat your home.
  • Installing all heating equipment according to the manufacturer’s specifications (or asking for professional help).

Smoking

Of all the home fire hazards, smoking is the most dangerous. The most home fires occur as a result of smoking materials. If you do smoke, protect your property and the people living in your home with these tips:

  • Use fire-safe cigarettes.
  • Smoke outside.
  • Never smoke in bed or any other place where there is danger of falling asleep.
  • Make sure all cigarettes and cigars are completely extinguished when you are done. Wet these items, and matches, in the sink before disposing of them in the trash can.

Electrical

Electricity has made our lives convenient in so many ways that it is easy to forget it can actually be a hazardous thing. It’s important to protect yourself from home fires by understanding the signs of dangerous electrical situations – and knowing who to call to help you. Stay out of harm’s way by following these suggestions for home electrical safety:

  • Plug just one heat-producing appliance in an outlet at a time. This includes items like coffee makers, toasters, hair dryers, curling irons, and space heaters.
  • Have Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) installed at your home. These breakers shut off electricity when danger is detected.
  • Never run electrical cords under carpets or doorways.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for the item you are using.

Keeping your home fire-safe in the winter, and all year long, is all about being aware of conditions that could be hazardous. Stay alert when it comes to keeping yourself, your family, and your home safe from common fire dangers – and call for professional help when it’s warranted.


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