Fire prevention and safety tips to protect your family and home during the winter

To help protect you and your family at home, follow these fire prevention and safety tips: 

Protecting Yourself and Your Family 

  • If you encounter power lines downed by falling tree limbs, stay back and call law enforcement (if on the roadway) or your power company.
  • Install smoke detectors and familiarize your family with the sound of the alarm.
  • Consider adding a carbon monoxide detector, to monitor odorless fumes from heat sources.
  • Plan an escape route from your home. If possible, every room should have two escape routes.
  • Smoke and heat rise. When you encounter smoke, crawl on the floor where the air is cleaner.

Furnaces 

  • Have your furnace checked by a professional to make sure it is operating properly. 
  • Change the filter as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Do not block heating vents.

Space Heaters 

  • Look for products that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials such as bedding, furniture and curtains.
  • Always turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to bed.
  • Never run a cord under rugs or carpeting.
  • Do not overload the circuit. If you must use an extension cord (better not to), choose one that is the same size or larger than the appliance cord. 
  • Avoid the risk of electrocution by never using electric heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come into contact with water.
  • Fueling kerosene heaters with anything other than kerosene (gasoline or camp stove fuel) can be extremely dangerous. Always refuel the heater outdoors.
  • If possible, buy heating devices with automatic shut-off features.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves 

  • Have them inspected annually.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Have fireplaces, stoves, and chimneys cleaned regularly.
  • Maintain proper clearance and keep combustible materials such as books and furniture away.
  • Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in a fireplace.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before closing the damper – no hot coals.
  • Wood stoves should be UL listed and installed with three feet of clearance from combustible surfaces, adequate floor support and protection.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors – it can generate lethal amounts of carbon dioxide.
  • If you use synthetic logs, follow the directions on the package. Never break up a synthetic log and don’t use more than one at a time. This could release dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

In case of fire, your basic homeowner’s, renter’s or condo insurance policy will cover resulting damage, both from the flames and water used to put out the fire. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the proper amount of coverage to repair or replace your structure and personal belongings. Make a home inventory so that you will have an up-to-date record of the contents of your home.