The Winter season is well known for its snow, ice, and severe cold temperatures. To protect and keep warm while outside, we bundle up with sweaters, scarves, and other warm layers. While at home, there are several ways to keep yourself, family, and space warm. For instance, turning up the thermostat, or lighting the fireplace if you have one, put up plastic to protect against cold from drafty windows; and if you just want to heat the room you’re currently in, you may opt for using a space heater.
While taking these measures will help keep you comfortable against the cold, many can also act as winter fire hazards. Without proper care and fire prevention practices, these same measures can threaten your home with smoke or fire damage. Space heaters and fireplaces aren’t the only winter fire hazards in your home. Since the winter season also brings holiday celebrations, people tend to cook and bake more often, and cooking mishaps can easily lead to a fire. Help ensure safety this winter by continuing to read our several home fire prevention tips.
Heating Safety Tips – Space Heaters
Space heaters are great because they allow you to heat colder or drafty rooms. However, space heaters can also be dangerous if used improperly. Therefore, if you’re going to use a space heater in your home, follow these safety tips:
- Space heaters should be at least 3 feet from all flammable objects and materials. This ensures there’s enough distance between the items to not cause a fire.
- Only plug your space heater directly into wall outlets; NEVER plug them into power strips.
- When you leave the room, make sure it’s turned off (never leave a space heater unattended)
- Check that your space heater has an automatic shut-off feature; this ensures the heater turns off if it is accidentally knocked over.
Fire Safety Tips – Fireplaces
Cozying up next to a warm fire is a great way to end the day and relax during cold winter nights. But without proper cleaning and maintenance, your fireplace isn’t guaranteed to work properly, or safely. Maintenance neglect can lead to a fire. One example of such includes creosote buildup in the chimney, which can catch fire and cause smoke and fire damage in your home. Aside from that, here are various tips you should follow to ensure your fireplace is used safely:
- Check that the damper’s open
- Only close the damper once the ashes have cooled thoroughly
- When the fireplace is in use, make sure the screen is closed.
- Never leave any flammable objects or materials nearby.
- If you’re leaving your home or going to sleep, put out the fire beforehand.
Decoration Safety Tips – Lights
The experience of going out with the family and bringing home a real Christmas tree is often an annual family tradition. Plus, the smell of fresh pine and realness can help bring the Spirit of the season to life. However, if not properly cared for, it can become dry and prone to catching fire.
One of the best perks about the winter season is that much of it includes the holidays. People decorate their homes inside and out by hanging holiday lights and buy real Christmas trees to decorate inside their homes. But while these are all beautiful, such items can also lead to fires if you don’t use them correctly.
- Lights should not be on throughout the entire day.
- Lights should be turned off before you head to bed each night.
- Never have more than three strings of lights connected.
- Make sure they’re safe and suitable for their respective uses, like indoors or outdoors.
- Keep all Christmas trees away from open flames and other heat sources.
- For real trees, pick out a fresh one, which is less prone to catching fire. Fresh trees feature needles that are a vibrant green. The needles should also be tough to pluck and break off the branch. If a tree is already shedding its needles, it’s not fresh.
Cooking Safety Tips
The holidays are the perfect time for cooking. But with that in mind, proper cooking practices should be followed to ensure fire prevention:
- Never leave your stove, oven, or other cooking appliances, unattended while on.
- Someone should always be present in the kitchen if the stove or oven are on.
- Don’t let the kitchen get too crowded. It’s easier for accidents to happen if there are too many people.
- Turn all pot handles inward. Pot handles that stick out make it easier for someone to hit and knock it over.
- In the event that you see smoke or grease spattering, turn off the stove, oven, or device immediately.
- Always have a fire extinguisher in or near enough to the kitchen where it is easy to grab in an emergency.
- Before you start cooking, make sure you’re wearing the proper attire — don’t wear anything that’s too loose. Also, roll up your sleeves, as this will help minimize the chances of your clothes catching on fire, should a mishap occur.
What to Do If You Experience a Home Fire This Winter
Practicing proper fire safety and fire prevention are your best chances at avoiding a home fire this winter season. However, accidents involving winter fire hazards do occur. Therefore, in the event a fire does break out in your home, stay calm, evacuate the property, and call 911. Then, when the fire is out, turn your attention to fire damage restoration efforts.
ServiceMaster DAK can help you and your fire-damaged home through the fire damage restoration services we provide in the North Shore and northwest Chicago suburbs. Following your call for help, we’ll respond immediately to minimize the damage. Our professional technicians will clean, repair/restore, and deodorize your home so that it’s a clean, healthy living space again.