Preventing Fires During the Winter

It would seem counterintuitive, but the reality is that more fires occur in homes during the winter months than at any other time of the year. Most of the causes can be linked to the higher use of space heaters and furnaces, as well as increased amounts of cooking during the holidays. The majority of such cases are actually because of cooking. It’s important to take steps to prevent such fires from occurring, rather than struggling to put the fire out. Here are some steps to take to protect you and your family from unnecessary danger.

Safe Cooking

Don’t ever leave your stove or oven unattended for any period of time. The US Fire Administration states that Thanksgiving is the day with the highest instances of cooking fires, and this can be attributed to too many items being cooked at once, as well as distractions from family and friends. From these cases, most of the fires are actually a result of unsupervised stoves. Keep all flammable items away from stovetop, such as dish towels or paper plates. Stay organized and keep an area where these items can be kept a safe distance away.

Dryer Vents

In an ideal world, homeowners would have their dryers inspected bi-annually at the very least to ensure they don’t pose a fire risk. The sad reality is that this is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle. It is so very important that the dryer be properly vented to the outside of the home, and also be free from lint and other debris such as nests from vermin and rodents. With the increasing complexity being built into more modern homes, many dryers are now being located in interior rooms rather than next to outer walls, making the vents longer and more prone to buildup. This results in higher probability of lint buildup, and potential fires. In short, make sure your vents and lint traps remain as clean as possible.

Chimneys

We naturally tend to use our fireplaces in the winter much more than in the warmer months, and this can also pose a fire hazard if you’re not careful. Dirty chimneys can also cause fires if proper maintenance isn’t performed. Chimney fires can burn slowly and build up without the homeowner realizing it, especially if they are not in the same room as the fireplace. To prevent such fires, only use seasoned wood, build smaller fires that produce considerably less smoke, never burn anything other than seasoned wood and paper, and have the chimney looked at by a professional and even cleaned from time to time.

Space Heaters

Although space heaters can be a quick and effective way to warm up a room, they are without a doubt serious fire threats if left unattended. This is usually the result of either faulty wiring or excessive heat buildup without cool downs. To prevent this, only run the space heater for short periods of time (20-30 minutes), and never leave them unattended. It’s also a good idea not to fall asleep while your space heater is running. Also, always keep them far away from beds, clothes, curtains, or other electronics. Lastly, always make sure the heater is on a level, hard surface – never on carpeting or rugs. These pose a huge fire threat.

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