Fireplaces, space heaters, Christmas trees and holiday candles: It’s easy to see why home fires are more common during the fall and winter months. To help keep homes and families safe, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has declared Oct. 7 through Oct. 13 its annual Fire Prevention Week. This year’s Fire Prevention Week is encouraging people across the county to “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire Can Happen Anywhere.”
The first step in decreasing your home’s winter safety risk is: Look. Look around your home for potential fire hazards. Hazards include overloaded extension cords or electrical outlets; fireplaces or chimneys that have not been swept or inspected before being used for the season; clothing dryer vents that haven’t been cleaned within a year; appliances like irons and curling irons that are left plugged in and unattended; and candles that are too close to combustible and that could be knocked over by a pet or a small child. Also take a look at your home’s heating appliances. There should be a minimum of a 3-foot “safety zone” around fireplaces, heating stoves, furnaces and space heaters that are left free of flammable items such as furniture, books, pillows, blankets, curtains or other items that could catch fire and spread.
Know to listen for the sound of smoke alarms in your home. According to the NFPA, a working smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in home fire by half. Make sure any children in your home know what your smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear smoke alarms going off. Check your home to be sure it’s equipped with enough smoke alarms; there should be a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Each fall, test your smoke alarm to be sure they are in working condition. Get help when you test your smoke alarms; have someone stand at the opposite end of your home while you push the test button to be sure that they can hear the alarm going off. You should be able to hear at least one smoke alarm sounding from every area of your home and sounding loud enough to wake you up or alert you to a problem.
Just having smoke detectors and listening for the sound of your smoke detectors isn’t enough. You and your family should have a plan of action for what to do when the smoke detectors sound. Your plan should include at least two ways out of every room in your home, a meeting place a safe distance from your home and a plan for calling 911 in the event of a fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows the plan well enough to execute it in an emergency; that might include practicing your fire exit plan, especially if you have small children in your home.
If you need help keeping your home safe from a home fire this winter, A to Z Chimney Services can help! We can sweep and inspect your chimney; service your fireplace or heating stove; or clean your clothing dryer vents to be sure that these appliances aren’t posing a risk in your home.