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Don't Be at Risk for a Home Fire This Winter

According to sources, heating units are the second leading cause of home fires, injuries and deaths. Make sure you are being safe while heating your home this winter. Learn more.

Candles in the home

Don't Be at Risk for a Home Fire This Winter

According to FEMA, 890 people die in winter home fires and Americans incur $2 billion in property damage from these fires each year. While winter fires account for only eight percent of all home fires, they account for 30 percent of all home fire deaths.

Heating units are the second leading cause of home fires, after cooking mishaps, which explains why winter fires are so dangerous. In addition to increasing home fire risk, many heat sources also produce deadly carbon monoxide gas. These fire safety tips will keep you warm and toasty this winter — without putting your home and family in harm’s way.

Be Careful with Candles

Candles are responsible for more than one-third of home decoration fires, with the top three days of the year for candle fires being Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Keep burning candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and never leave lit candles unattended. For safety’s sake, consider purchasing electric candles and saving the old-fashioned kind for emergencies.

Keep Your Christmas Tree Away from Heat Sources

Tree fires are less common than candle fires, but they still happen, especially when trees are placed too close to heat sources. Keep your Christmas tree at least three feet away from heat sources like candles, space heaters, fire places, radiators or heating vents. Keep real trees from drying out as much as possible and dispose of them right after Christmas.

Use Light Strands and Extension Cords Wisely

Light strands and extension cords definitely contribute to the high incidence of Christmastime fires. Decorate safely this Christmas, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for using light strands and extension cords. Throw away frayed or damaged light strands and extension cords. Plug extension cords directly into the wall, not into power strips.

Clean and Inspect Chimneys Yearly

Prevent carbon monoxide leaks and winter home fires by having your chimney cleaned and inspected each year. You can either have your chimney cleaned each spring after a winter of cozy fires or in the fall when you have your seasonal HVAC tune-up.

Practice Fireplace Safety

Few things are as lovely on a cold, snowy winter’s eve as a warm, crackling fire. But don’t let the flames escape your fireplace. Use a sturdy glass or metal screen to keep sparks from flying out into your home. 

Keep Flammables Away from Fire

Keep flammables at least three feet away from your fireplace, wood-burning stove or other source of heat. If you have a wood-burning stove, keep the doors closed unless you are adding wood or removing ashes.

Be Smart with Space Heaters

If you use space heaters to supplement your central heating, or in place of central heating, be smart with them. Use the right fuel for fuel-burning heaters. If you purchase electric space heaters, buy the ones with safety shut-offs that cause the heater to stop running if it’s tipped over. Radiant space heaters are the safest and cheapest to run.

Use Generators Outdoors

Portable generators can get your household through power outages that occur during winter storms, but for safety’s sake, always use them outdoors. In addition to being a fire hazard, portable generators can produce carbon monoxide. Keep them away from windows and as far from your home’s exterior walls as you can. You should also keep them away from shrubs, trees and other flammable foliage.

Don’t Heat Your Home with Your Kitchen Stove

When your furnace breaks down unexpectedly, it can be tempting to turn on the oven and open up the door in order to get some heat into the house while you’re waiting on a repair. Doing so, however, can create a fire hazard and release carbon monoxide into your home. Running the burners for heat can be even more dangerous. Use space heaters, blankets, hot water bottles and warm clothing to keep warm during furnace breakdowns. Better yet, make sure to have your HVAC inspected each fall to prevent unexpected breakdowns.

Winter fires account for nearly a third of all home fire deaths, and even if no one is hurt, a winter fire can leave you and your family homeless during the coldest months of the year. Fire safety should be a priority all year around, but especially during the winter months, when home heating and holiday decorations up the risk. American Home Shield® can help you keep your furnace safe and in working order with regular inspections and service. Get a quote today to learn more!

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