Fall is officially here. As the leaves turn from green to yellow and orange, homes need to be ready for the cold season ahead. Getting ready, however, isn’t just about staying warm. It’s also about preventing house fires. Cold weather increases the need for heating, which can cause structural fires in homes with residents who aren’t careful.
This autumn, homeowners should take measures to stay safe while planning for the cooler weather and upcoming holidays. Here are seven safety tips to keep you and your family safe from destructive and deadly house fires.
1. Inspect Your Home’s Heating System
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revealed that heating systems are a leading cause of fires in residential homes. Before the winter temperatures roll in, switch on your heating equipment and check if it’s working properly. If your system has been idle for approximately half a year, you’ll want to see if it’s safe to use.
A few of the steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of furnace-related house fires are the following:
- Keep the areas around the furnace clear of debris and combustible items
- Clean the burner area regularly
- Replace the furnace filters regularly
If you notice anything unusual during your test run, turn off your heating system as soon as possible and get in touch with a furnace repair professional near you.
2. Check If Your Smoke Alarms are Working
Smoke alarms are crucial in homes, as they let people know when there’s a fire. During autumn, take the time to test these systems. Also, make sure to replace the battery annually. If you hear the alarm chirp, it usually means that the battery is running low.
When your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm yet, purchase one as soon as possible. See if you find a system that doubles as a carbon monoxide detector. This odorless and colorless gas can originate from any appliance or device the heats or burns with oil or wood. Breathing in carbon monoxide is dangerous, as this toxic compound can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea and loss of consciousness.
3. Stay in the Kitchen When Cooking
Another cause of house fires is cooking. If you’re going to whip up delicious meals for Halloween and Thanksgiving, stay in the kitchen and don’t leave until you’re done. Also, keep your working area clear. Don’t put combustible items near your cooktop, such as potholders and food wrappers.
4. Grill Responsibly
During football season, many households use the outdoor grill to serve up mouth-watering burgers for the whole family. Exercise care when using this cooking device.
Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Clean your grill properly after using it.
- Cook at a safe distance. Ideally, you should grill at least ten feet away from buildings and trees.
- Put your grill on a non-flammable surface, such as asphalt or concrete.
- Never leave your grilling station unattended. An innocent-spark can cause a house (or forest) fire.
5. Exercise Care When Using Candles
Some homeowners use candles as part of their Halloween decoration. Although they look pretty, they’re also hazardous. Don’t leave your candles unattended. You should extinguish the flame if it’s a couple of inches away from the holder. If you continue to let the candle burn, the holder may get hot and catch fire.
Alternatively, you could use flameless candles in place of traditional wick candles. They can provide comfy vibes without the need for an open flame.
6. Clean the Lint Trap of Your Dryer
Fires can ignite in drying and washing machines. Dryers, for instance, accumulate lint. This dirt serves as a heating element that could cause a fire.
You can avoid dryer-related house fires by cleaning the lint trap regularly. You’ll know that your dryer vent is dirty or clogged when you notice the following red flags:
- The dryer is emitting is musty or funky odor
- Dirt is present near the opening of the dryer vent
- The clothes are unusually hot when they come out of the dryer
7. Come up with a Fire Safety Plan
If your house does catch fire, you need to know exactly what to do (try not to panic). Create a plan that tackles the important aspects of fire safety for your house. The goal of this document is to mitigate a fire hazard in a property, outline steps to orderly and safe evacuation, and detail the proper use of fire protection systems, such as fire extinguishers.
Put fire safety at the forefront by taking note of these suggestions. These recommendations will help you enjoy a fire-safe fall and winter season with the whole family.