Cooler weather has arrived, which means more time spent indoors. Homeowners may use the fireplace or space heaters to keep warm, leading to a higher fire risk. Take precautions to keep your family and property safe during fall and winter. Here are five ways to improve fire safety this season.
Improve Fire Safety at Home
1. Have the Heating System Inspected
Have a licensed heating contractor inspect your heating system to make sure it is in good condition and safe to use. An inspection is vital if you haven’t used the furnace in a while. The HVAC system can become clogged with dust, debris, and even pests during the warmer months, leading to problems with the unit or causing a fire. A professional will check the system, detecting and repairing issues before they become safety hazards.
2. Keep the Chimney Clean
If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is clean before building a fire. A buildup of creosote, leaves, and debris can ignite when you light a fire, causing a chimney fire that may spread to other areas of your home. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year. A chimney sweep will have the tools and equipment to remove leaves, soot, and creosote safely.
3. Safe Use of Space Heaters
Space heaters are frequently used to stay warm during cooler months but are also a common cause of fires. Follow all safety instructions when using a space heater. Keep the appliance at least five feet away from furniture, curtains, bedding, and anything else that may catch fire. Never leave a space heater unattended; turn it off before leaving the house or going to bed.
4. Test the Smoke Detectors to Improve Fire Safety
Test your smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries at least twice yearly. Smoke detectors can be lifesavers in a fire, but they’re only effective if they work correctly. Verify you have smoke detectors installed on each level of your home, including in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Consider upgrading to interconnected smoke detectors so they all sound if one alarm goes off.
5. Make a Family Fire Escape Plan
Verify your family has a plan to exit the house in case of a fire. Map two escape routes out of every room, with a meeting place away from the home. Teach your children to exit safely by crawling to stay below the smoke and testing doorknobs to see if they’re hot. Establish a plan for calling 911. Practice your fire escape plan so everyone knows what to do in an emergency.
Improve fire safety to keep your family and property safe. Use the furnace, space heaters, and fireplaces with caution. Set a reminder in your phone to test the smoke detectors regularly. These precautions can help prevent fires while staying warm and safe this fall and winter.