As we head into the heart of winter, homeowners should be aware that the season brings with it an increased risk of house fires. Throughout the United States, 890 people lose their lives to winter house fires every year, and over $2 billion in property damage is caused by fires in the cold months alone.
That’s why it’s so important to do a winter fire safety audit on your home. With months of winter still to come, it’s not too late to make sure your home is ready now.
Defending your home against the risks of a winter house fire is always the better option. Losing your home to fire can have devastating impacts on your family. Just ask insurance claim experts at Virani Law, a law firm that specializes in helping families with fire insurance claims after devastating losses. The fire insurance claim process is lengthy, and even if you’re fortunate enough to get all family members and pets out of the house safely, the loss of personal keepsakes and belongings and the damage done to the structure of your home will be a tough emotional burden to bear.
Here’s how to start your fire safety audit.
#1 Check the Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors may not prevent a fire, but they can save lives. You should be checking smoke detector batteries once a month. Once a year, you should also make sure the unit itself works. Using incense or a piece of smoldering cotton, wave smoke under the detector until it sounds. If it doesn’t, check the battery (or electrical connection) and try again. If it continues to not work, replace the unit.
#2 Be Careful with Space Heaters
When the temperatures really fall, a little extra heat goes a long way toward making your home feel cozy and comfortable. But space heaters come with big risks. If they’re left on overnight or unattended, they can overheat and ignite nearby combustibles. Make sure they are located far enough away from fabrics like carpet, bed spreads, and curtains. You should also plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord, as this can cause an electrical shock.
#3 Use Caution Operating Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
If you want to add old school charm to your cozy winter nights, there’s no better way than with a wood stove. But you should read up on wood stove safety tips before you use this traditional heating method.
Here are a few of the more important tips:
- Keep anything that can burn 3 feet away from the wood stove;
- Never burn paper;
- Have your chimney inspected annually; and
- Never leave the fire burning while you sleep.
#4 Keep Snow Cleared from Furnace Vent Pipes and Water Heaters
In addition to fire, carbon monoxide can also be lethal. Produced by your furnace and water heater as a by-product of combustion, it’s usually vented out of your home. Snow build-up can block the vents, and while your furnace or water heater should shut down in case of a blockage, accidents still happen.
Check your home for fire safety this winter and stay safe.