The average number of house fires peaks between December and February each year. Fire risk increases with more frequent use of space heaters, the fireplace, and more time spent cooking in the kitchen. Here are a few winter fire safety tips to keep you and your family safe this season.
Only Use Seasoned Firewood for Winter Fire Safety
When using your fireplace this winter, don’t burn pressure-treated or painted wood. These types of wood release chemicals into your home’s air, affecting the indoor air quality. “Green” or fresh wood produces more smoke when it burns, leading to more creosote accumulating in the chimney. Dry, seasoned hardwood is the only type of wood you should burn in a fireplace.
Clean the Chimney
Have your chimney cleaned at least annually to remove leaves, pine needles, creosote, and animal nests. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the best way to handle this maintenance task. A pro knows how to complete the job thoroughly and safely to get your fireplace ready for colder weather.
Fire Safety in the Kitchen This Winter
When preparing food, stay safe in the kitchen. Tie apron strings and long hair back and out of the way of heat sources. Turn pot handles inward, clean spills immediately, and keep small children and pets out of the kitchen. Never leave a stove unattended and make sure to keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a kitchen fire.
Test the Smoke Detectors
Check the batteries in your smoke detectors by pressing the test button once a month. This is a task you can get the children involved with. Set a reminder in your cell phone to test the devices and replace the batteries twice every year.
Use a Fireplace Screen for Safety
Using a fireplace screen is important for fire safety. These screens keep embers contained in the firebox and prevent sparks from jumping out of the fireplace and onto the rug or other flammable items. A fireplace barrier is usually a metal screen or glass doors. Both are also helpful for keeping pets and young children away from the flames.
Winter Fire Safety Tips: Use Space Heaters Wisely
While space heaters can be used as supplemental heat in areas of your home, make sure you’re using them correctly. Never leave a portable heater unattended. Use the appliance on a flat and stable surface at least three feet away from flammable objects. When shopping for a space heater, choose a device that will automatically shut off if tipped over.
Be Careful with Candles
Candles create a cozy atmosphere inside your home, especially during the winter, but they can also be a fire hazard. Place candles on a flat, level, fire-resistant surface. Extinguish them before leaving the house or going to bed and never allow children to play with candles, matches, and lighters. Better yet, use battery-operated LED candles and eliminate a fire risk altogether. These candles look like the real thing and are widely available online and in stores.