With winter now upon us, one must consider the risk of fire during the colder months. While fire seems unlikely during the colder months, homes are actually at an increased risk. The increased risk is that people spend more time indoors during the winter and use various heating sources to stay warm. This reliance on numerous heating sources could lead to a fire. Here are some common threats of fire and ways to help prevent a potential accident.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Winter is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Each year, between 2013-2017, an average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported. The risks associated with candles are significantly high, even though candles are part of the cozy winter spirit and an enjoyable home ambiance. Homeowners, especially those with children or pets moving around unmonitored, should consider the risks of using candles. If you choose to use candles, make sure they’re more than 12-inches away from any other object. Also, make sure to extinguish them before you leave or go to bed.
While space heaters can add a much-needed boost of heat during the coldest days, their risks are similar to those posed by candles. When using a space heater, make sure flammable objects are at least 3-feet away from the heater. And double-check that heaters are off when leaving or going to bed. Most modern space heaters turn off automatically when tipped over, but not all. Ensuring your space heater is off is especially important if you have young children or pets that may knock the device over.
Maintain and Monitor Your Home’s Heating System
Your home’s furnace, and even the air ducts and vents associated with it, are at an increased risk of causing a fire during the winter months. Manufacturers are designing new systems to be as safe as possible, but homeowners should take a few steps to ensure their safety. First, make sure that no vents are blocked or covered by something flammable. Your furnace needs ample room around it to function safely. Next, schedule an inspection for your furnace and AC systems to ensure there are no underlying issues. You can call us to do your inspection at (812) 683-0675.
Do not underestimate the importance of smoke detectors. In fact, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when homes have a working smoke alarm. Having an alarm on every floor is recommended, but there is no such thing as too many. Depending on the square footage of one’s home, you may need multiple devices per floor. Beyond ample coverage, test these devices monthly to ensure their batteries are working and that the device has not exceeded its 10-year lifespan.
While considering the importance of smoke alarms, you should also remember it’s sibling device: a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas created by the burning of carbon fuels. Because of our inability to detect it, we must rely on these devices to notify us of the danger. When conducting the monthly checks of your smoke alarms, make sure to follow the same steps, and check your carbon monoxide detectors as well.
Keeping your home safe from fire during the winter is one of the most important considerations for a homeowner. While following the steps above is a great start, we suggest a yearly inspection of your home for threats. Regardless of your home’s layout and risk, no one is safe from the fire risks and should continuously work to mitigate as many of these risks as possible.
And as a reminder, the safest way to heat your home is via a well-maintained and inspected heating system.