Fall is here, which means winter is just around the corner. As you start making your Christmas lists and pull the snow shovels and sleds down from the rafters, don’t forget to add fire-prevention maintenance to your agenda. Here are the items you should check today to ensure a safe, cozy winter.
Have your chimney inspected once a year, especially if it is wood burning. Creosote, a sticky and highly flammable substance, can build up inside your chimney, putting your home at risk for fire.
For safe and efficient heating this winter, check and clean (or replace) your furnace filter. Keep extra filters on hand so you don’t get stuck in a cold weather emergency.
Space heaters are one of the primary causes of fires during the winter months. If you must use a space heater, make sure it is a newer model, and never place it near drapes, clothing, furniture, or other flammable items. Never leave a space heater unattended.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends testing your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors monthly, changing the batteries at least once a year and replacing alarms that are more than five years old. In addition, ensure that there is a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the home and in or near each bedroom.
Face the fall first: make sure children’s Halloween costumes are made with fire retardant materials, and never light a jack-o-lantern with a real candle. (Opt for flashlights or battery-operated “candles.”) As fall moves into winter and you start pulling out those winter holiday decorations, check to make sure all lights and extension cords are tested by an organization such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory) and don’t have any broken bulbs or frayed wires.
Create or review your family’s escape plan in the event of a fire. If you live in a multi-story home, keep an escape ladder on the upper level, and make sure the family knows how to locate and use it. Train family members how to use the fire extinguisher as well, and review general fire safety tips surrounding candles, cooking, and flammable materials.