As we begin implementing heaters, decorations, and fireplaces in our house this season, don't forget to exercise caution to prevent a catastrophe from happening. This is the time of year we start seeing incidences of house fires go up. Here are some tips to help prevent this from happening to you:
Fireplaces: Clean your chimneys once a year. Over time, chimneys build up with creosote which can catch fire if the build-up is bad enough. Avoid using accelerants in your fireplace as this can lead to flames that can become out of control. Avoid burning trash, metal, and charcoal in your fireplace as well. When burning wood, avoid burning soft woods from coniferous trees (pine, cedar, balsam), as they create more creosote than long-lasting hardwoods like oak, birch, maple, and ash trees.
Space Heaters: Prevent shorts, over-heating, and fires by staying in the room while the heater is running. Avoid using heaters with frayed wires. If you leave the room, turn off the heater and unplug it. Let heaters cool before putting them away. Keep heaters away from combustible materials, and a safe distance away from shelves and walls as well.
Overloaded circuits: Remember the dad from A Christmas Story? When he plugs the leg lamp into, what seems like, the only electrical outlet in the house, sparks fly, and it shorts out the electricity. Yeah. That is the perfect example of what not to do. Have up-to-date electrical panels and outlets, and don't overload them with lights, decorations, and "major awards".
Candles: Perfectly acceptable to have candles lit over the holidays. They add ambience, they look great, smell nice, and are even a necessity to religious celebrations over the holidays. Just be careful. Avoid leaving lit candles alone in a room. Make sure candles don't have combustibles around them, and make sure they are securely placed in some kind of glass or metal holder.
Battery storage: Keep batteries in their packages before use, don't carry them in your pocket, cover terminals of ALL loose batteries with electrical tape, and don't store batteries near flammable substances. Click the link for a story about David Miller from Colorado and his experience with a house fire caused by an innocent battery storage mistake so many people make, simply because they just aren't aware.
Stay safe this winter by using these fire prevention methods. The weather is enough to worry about.