Winter is here, and it’s a time for building snowmen, drinking hot cocoa and sitting in front of the fireplace. Because it’s cold outside, heating up some soup on the stove, turning on the heat in your house and letting a fire crackle in the fireplace are ideal remedies for bone-chilling weather.
But with all the extra needs to create warmth during the winter, fire and heat will be used much more than during summer, and that means potential fire hazard risks increase.
And according to the National Fire Protection Association, December, January and February are the leading months for home fires, when half of all home heating fires occur, with space heaters being the leading cause of those fires during winter.
What are some problem areas to look out for?
- Many of us during cold, dark months have lights on our houses. According to Ohio.gov, check all light sets for damaged sockets or other parts, which can spark a fire.
- Be sure to turn off lights when asleep or away from home.
- Do not use indoor lights on the outside of your home.
- Inman News argues against using using extension cords, if you can. But if you have to, be sure you have the proper plugs connected.
- Candles are a great winter accessory, but they can be dangerous if left in a precarious spot. Keep them in sturdy holders in places where children cannot easily knock them over.
- Do not leave candles burning overnight.
- Keep candles away from plants, paper, and other such objects.
Fireplaces and heaters
- Be sure to remove all decorations near your fireplace before you start a fire, and open the flue.
- As tempting as it is not to, always keep the screen in front of a fire.
- Do not keep combustible materials near space heaters, as they could catch on fire. The NFPA suggests that you “keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.”
- It’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your heating equipment and fireplaces once a year to make sure everything is functioning properly.
- According to answers.usa.gov, clean dust out of your heaters and do not use extension cords with them.
- Never leave the stove unattended while food is cooking on it.
- “Keep combustible materials such as towels, potholders, papers, etc., away from heat sources on the stove or oven,” said ohio.gov.
- Make sure to keep small children away from the stove while in use.
- Do not use your oven to heat your home, according to the NFPA.
Other fire safety tips
- In case of a winter fire, having smoke detectors that work properly will increase your protection, so check them monthly and replace the batteries twice in a year.
- Keep an eye on matches and lighters when they are out for use.
- Have an escape plan down in case of fire.
Photo courtesy of State Farm