10 Tips To Get A Jump On Making Your Home Fire Safe For Fall/Winter.
- Get your chimney cleaned.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, Before you light that thing up, be sure to get a chimney sweep in to clean your chimney and service your fireplace to ensure all parts, dampers, etc. are working as they should. Also, ensure you are burning dry seasoned firewood in your fireplace and this will minimize the creosote buildup and lessen the potential for chimney fires to occur. Having screens in front of open fireplaces will help eliminate any spark hazard.
- Have your heating furnace serviced.
A home heating furnace needs to be serviced every year to ensure its running properly and the required maintenance has been done. A poorly running furnace can be very dangerous as it can emit carbon monoxide, which is a deadly odourless and colourless gas, in to your home. Make sure to have a qualified contractor perform the work.
- Test your smoke alarms and change the batteries.
Fall is the perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke detector and make sure they are in proper working order. If you have a hard wired detector, check to see if it has a backup battery, and if so, these need to be changed out as well. To test your alarm, simply press and hold the alarm test button on the cover plate and the alarm should sound. If you have any smoke detectors that are older than 10 years then it should be replaced. Also, ensure you have a smoke detector outside AND inside your sleeping rooms and at least one on every level of your home. If you have gas appliances or have an attached garage, you should also have a carbon monoxide (CO) or a combination smoke and CO detector installed in your home.
- Clean up around the home exterior.
With the leaves falling from the trees and brush drying out and dying, this can create a large fuel load around your home should we have a dry winter. Ensuring you rake up any dead leaves and branches and take them to a green waste will help reduce the impact should a fire start on the outside of the home
- Move items away from baseboard heaters.
With the temperatures starting to dip in the evenings, it’s getting to be that time of year where the baseboard heaters are coming back in to use! Take a walk around your house and make sure all furniture is not pushed right up against your heaters and all other items such as drapes have sufficient clearance from them. If you have small children, you may want to check that no small toys, paper or any other items have been put inside the heaters before turning them on.
- Practice the safe use of candles.
If you like to use candles, then ensure they are placed away from any combustible materials and in an area where nothing can fall on them. They should be on a flat and steady surface and set on a non-combustible holder out of reach from children. If you light your candles with matches, ensure you run the match under the tap after blowing it out before placing it down or disposing of it. To be completely safe, battery powered candles are a great option!
- Clean out your dryer vents.
Part of your annual maintenance should be cleaning out your dryer vent ducts. Dryer ducts that have lint build up create a fire hazard. Depending on the length of the run, these can be cleaned out with a shop vac, or you can have a contractor with the proper equipment come and blow out the vent to ensure any lint stuck or sitting in the ducting is removed.
- Portable heaters.
If you use portable heaters in your home, ensure they are equipped with a thermostat and an automatic shutoff device in the event the heater gets knocked over. Portable heaters are not recommended to be left on when you are not in the home. If you have multiple heaters running, ensure no more than one is used per receptacle and additional heaters should be used in a receptacle on a separate circuit if possible. Portable heaters should never be plugged in to a power bar with other electronics.
- Practice safe cooking.
Fall and winter season is the time for indoor cooking and entertaining. Roasts and oven cooking are very popular in the colder months so it’s important that you never leave the house with food in the oven. Stove top cooking should never be left unattended and someone should be in the kitchen at all times when any stovetop cooking is happening. If you have children, ensure they know to keep out of the kitchen when hot pots are being transferred and make sure any pots/pans on the stove have the handles pointing to the sides/rear so the handles can’t be reached by small children. Every home should also have a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen in the event that a fire should start. Remember to never try and extinguish a grease fire with water, and if possible, it’s best to use a lid to suffocate a fire that’s started in a pot.
- Create a home fire safety plan.
We can only do so much to ensure our homes are fire safe. Sometimes fires can start from things beyond our control, so it’s important that each household have a plan in case a fire starts in the home. Your home fire safety plan should include things like a floor plan of the home showing two ways out of each room in the home, a family meeting spot outside the home, any important emergency contacts or phone numbers, and any provisions for family members who may need assistance in getting out of the home. You can read more information and download a printable fire safety plan template here: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/safety-in-the-home/escape-planning/basic-fire-escape-planning