The winter season brings beautiful scenery, fun activities, and traditions. It also means more time indoors. Spending more time indoors to stay warm and snug also comes with an increased risk of a fire in the home. The National Fire Protection Agency states that 48,530 house fires involving heating equipment occurred between 2014-2018 with nearly all fires occurring in December, January, and February. Below, we have outlined some of the leading causes of house fires as well as some preventative measures to keep your property safe!
Portable Space Heaters
Portable heaters are involved in about 1,700 fires per year, resulting in about 80 deaths and 160 injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates. When the weather turns cold, portable heaters are one of the quickest ways to supplement heat in a home. If you plan to use a space heater in your home, choose one that has been tested and certified by an independent laboratory and that will automatically shut off if the heater tips over. While you are using a space heater, plug it into the wall outlet, rather than using an extension cord or multi-plug adaptor. Place it at least three feet away from anything that can burn such as furniture, bedding, rugs, and clothing. Be sure to turn it off and unplug it before you leave the room.
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal. Anytime a gas-fueled appliance is used, such as a gas furnace, there is, unfortunately, an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Fire protection experts recommend having your gas furnace inspected and serviced annually. Ensure that carbon monoxide detectors are installed in your home and test them once monthly. Avoid starting your vehicle inside your garage to get it warmed up as this can also release carbon monoxide into the home.
Keep Your Chimney Clean
There are over 25,000 reported chimney fires a year in the U.S. They are almost always preventable. Make sure that a Certified Chimney Sweep inspects your fireplace, venting, and chimney annually prior to lighting a fire.
In about 80 percent of property fires, a fire extinguisher is all that’s needed to put out a fire. It is estimated that thousands of lives are saved with fire extinguishers each year. Fire extinguishers have an expiration date of 10-12 years and need to be recharged after every use.
Fires caused by electrical outlets are typically due to worn wiring behind sockets breaking off. Inspecting outlets every few years can prevent this from happening and the potential for fire. Additionally, if your home is over 20 years old, the electrical outlets will need to be replaced and are unlikely able to handle the workload of today’s electronics and technology. Avoid overloading electrical outlets as this is also a fire hazard.
This one is not a fire prevention tip, but more so a preparation tip if the unexpected happens. Check with your insurance provider to make sure that there is adequate fire coverage on your policy regardless of you are a property owner or tenant. Reviewing your insurance coverage each year will offer peace of mind and prevent any surprises if something were to happen.
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