Winter Fire Safety in Western Massachusetts
It’s that time of year when the snowflakes are on their way and temperatures drop to a bitter low across New England. During the winter months, we tend to spend more time at home with our family and loved ones, so what better way to protect them than by making sure your home is protected from any fire hazards. Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%). Here is everything you need to know about keeping your family and home safe from fire this winter season!
Facts About Home Heating Fires
- From 2013-2015, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred in the United States each year.
- Heating was the second leading cause of home fires after cooking.
- Home heating fires peaked in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m.
- Home heating fires peaked in January (21 percent) and declined to the lowest point from June to August.
- Confined fires accounted for 75 percent of home heating fires.
- Twenty-nine percent of the non-confined home heating fires happened because the heat source (like a space heater or fire place) was too close to things that can burn.
Have Your Furnace Checked
Although this is something that many people believe they can do themselves, it is often safer to invest in hiring a professional to come and inspect your furnace annually. It’s always better to know when something is not working properly than to have it abruptly break down in those cold winter months when you need heat the most.
Check Your Chimneys And Vents
Fireplaces can produce creosote which has the capability of igniting. If your family lights the fireplace often, you most likely need an annual chimney inspection to make sure that there are no hazards capable of starting a fire. It’s important to always remember that when burning wood, use dry, seasoned wood which produces more flame with less smoke.
Test Your Smoke Alarms
You always want to double check that your batteries are fresh and will last you through the winter. Always place smoke alarms in the kitchen, bedrooms, and the laundry room.
Always Cover Your Fireplace With A Screen
Either a metal screen or tempered glass will suffice to protect any sparks from leaving the fireplace. Still, you always want to make sure to keep kids and pets at least three feet away from a burning fireplace.
Beware Of Lit Candles
Although candles can set the mood for a relaxing and calming evening, they can be easily knocked over by kids or pets. Only light candles when you are alert and able to watch them, blowing them out whenever you intend to leave the room.
Beware Of Space Heaters
These devices require a good amount of space to be used without any fire hazards. Just like fireplaces, children and pets should not sit closer than three feet in front of a space heater. Avoid placing heaters near curtains, tablecloths or other flapping fabrics. Always make sure your space heater has an automatic shut off switch, which forces the heater to shut-off as soon as it reaches a dangerously high heat level.