As summer comes to an end and the colder months quickly approach the New London county area, it’s important to be aware about the dangers of fires and how to prevent them. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that residential fires account for an average of 945 deaths; 3,825 injuries; and $1.7 million in property loss each winter. Fires tend to be more prevalent during winter months, mostly because of an increase in cooking and the use of alternative heat sources. Learn more about the threat of winter fires and how to protect your home and your family from a tragedy.
Cooking is the leading cause of fires during the winter. During a power outage, many people turn to heating alternatives like fireplaces and kerosene heaters to keep their homes warm during a winter storm, which can increase the risk of a fire if not used properly. Holiday decorations can also lead to a fire. Here are some suggestions to help keep your Connecticut residence safe all season long:
Heat Your Home the Safe Way
When using alternative heating appliances like a wood or pellet stove, make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow building code regulations. Space heaters should be at least three feet away from any combustible materials. It’s important that you never leave a space heater unattended and limit the amount of time that you use it. If you are like many homeowners who are using a wood stove to heat your home, never use flammable liquids such as gasoline to light the stove. Make sure to use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to keep embers or sparks from jumping out and igniting carpeting or furniture. Hot ashes should be put in a covered metal container and placed away from the house or other buildings. A stovetop or oven should never be used for heating. Finally, it’s important to have your furnace and chimney inspected and cleaned every year.
Keep Your Family Safe During a Winter Storm
Everyone in Connecticut remembers the October 2011 snowstorm that slammed the Northeast, dropping record-setting amounts of snow and leading to widespread power outages caused by snow, ice and falling trees which left many homeowners in the dark for days. When a winter storm strikes and the power goes out, many of us turn to our generators for electricity. There are many precautions that should be taken when using a generator, but a common mistake is running the generator inside of the house. This is extremely hazardous and can lead to a fire. Many winter storm fires are also caused by candles. For emergency lighting, use a flashlight instead of candles to ensure your safety.
Prevent a Fire During the Holidays
If you have a Christmas tree with lights, make sure that the needles are not too dry and keep the tree stand filled with water to prevent the tree from catching fire. Also be sure to unplug Christmas lights before you leave the house or go to sleep. Inspect your holiday lights for frays in the cord and never overload electrical outlets. Always stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you need to leave the kitchen for any reason, turn off the stove. If you were up late wrapping presents, let someone else do the cooking. You should never cook if you are sleepy or have been consuming alcohol. If you are thinking about grilling your turkey this year, make sure your barbecue grill is at least 10 feet away from the house and deck railings, and do not place it under eaves or overhanging branches.
Protect Your Home from Fire Year Round
Working smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be tested regularly and new batteries should be installed once a year. An alarm with battery back-up should be used in case of a power outage. Always develop an escape plan with your family in the event that a fire does ever occur in your home.
If a fire does happen, it’s important that the restoration process begin within hours. Mold can grow in as little as 24 hours after building materials have been saturated. Mold damage can be more expensive than the actual fire damage, which is why it’s important to act fast. ServiceMaster Restoration by Wills is Connecticut, Massachusetts & New York’s fire damage restoration experts. We have the experience to assess the damages and begin the restoration process immediately. With the fall and winter seasons ahead, be smart and safe while keeping your house warm or entertaining family during the holidays. These tips can also be useful to prevent fires all year long!