When the weather turns chilly, it’s time to turn up the heat indoors. But while you might have intentions of making your home cozier, you could easily make your home a lot more hazardous if you aren’t careful.
In fact, residential fires are common in winter for this very reason. Although 1.2 million people die in car accidents every year, there were approximately 1.3 million fires that occurred throughout the U.S. in 2017. Subsequently, there were 3,400 fatalities that transpired as a result of those fires, with another 14,670 injuries recorded. Statistics show that a combination of early warning systems and automatic sprinklers in all buildings could reduce injuries, property damage, and loss of life by 50%. But how can you stop a fire before it ever breaks out in your home?
Use Caution When Space Heating
Despite the fact that furnaces have a pretty impressive lifespan — around 15 to 18 years, on average — your home heating system might not be doing enough to keep your home comfortable. Many people turn to space heaters to supplement their HVAC system. But while these heaters are effective, they can also be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are a factor in two out of every five fires. You’ll want to use space heaters that have automatic shut-off switches, which will ensure that the heater will turn off when a certain heat level is reached. Space heaters should also be placed in locations that are far away from debris, blankets, curtains, linens, or other flammable decor. Pets and children should be kept at least three feet away from heaters, as well. Always plug a space heater directly into a wall outlet, rather than into a power strip or extension cord, for safety purposes. Homeowners should also turn off (or even unplug) a space heater when leaving the house or leaving a room. And although the appliance industry makes up one-third of the industrial power coated parts market, you should never use one of your biggest kitchen appliances — your oven — to heat your home.
Pay Attention to the Chimney
If you have a working fireplace in your home, you’ll want to obtain regular cleanings and inspections to ensure it’s functioning as intended. Creosote can easily build up over time — and since creosote is highly flammable, this presents a huge fire hazard. Just like you should change your HVAC filter every three months, you should also check your chimney regularly. It’s also recommended that your fireplace have a screen made of tempered glass or metal to keep sparks from flying and starting a fire. Be sure to use seasoned wood, rather than fresh-cut wood, to prevent creosote buildup.
Check Your Safety Measures
In addition to maintaining safe holiday decorations and prioritizing proper usage of candles, you should ensure your home’s alarm systems will keep your family from harm. Test your smoke detector batteries on a regular basis and make sure that these systems are working as they should. You should also have your carbon monoxide detector tested regularly. Make sure that you and your family are familiar with what to do in the event of a fire, as well. While one would hope you never have to rely on these methods, it’s important to know that they’re in place and that they’ll protect you if necessary.
Clean Your Major Appliances
The appliances in your home help ensure that your daily life runs smoothly, but they can also become a fire hazard if you don’t properly maintain them. As you dry more laundry for the guests staying at your home and cook up big meals for the parties you’re hosting, the holiday season typically demands even more work than usual from your appliances. This makes fire hazards from appliances become even more prevalent during the winter.
To prevent fires from starting in your appliances, be sure to clean them thoroughly. Give your oven a good scrub to get off food particles that have burnt on to it. Remember to clean your dryer vent too, as failure to clean it is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires. Although this may not seem like a huge threat, there are 2,900 home clothes dryer fires reported every year. By taking the proper maintenance steps for your appliances, you can prevent these fires and keep your family safe.
This winter, take care to invest in your safety. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your home comfortable without jeopardizing your family’s well-being.