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Winter & Fire Proofing Your Home

Winter is right around the corner. We hear a lot about Spring cleaning, but what about Winter cleaning? While Spring cleaning empties your home of unnecessary items and dust that has built up over a season indoors, winter cleaning prepares your home, inside and out, to weather a chillier climate. This includes cleaning furnaces and lint traps so that your home is safe against fires that can ignite.

Here are a few tips that we recommend to successfully fireproof your home for the winter.

1. Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy

Fire extinguishers are the best defense against fires. Most of them are found in kitchens, as this is where most fires start but we recommend to have one in each room. Make sure you keep one near every fireplace as well. Due to flammable materials stored and the presence of gas and oil, a large fire extinguisher is recommended for the garage. Fire extinguishers do not last forever. Make a note of the expiration dates of the extinguishers you have in your house and make sure that they are replaced or refilled.

2. Install and Check Smoke Alarms

Most homes have smoke alarms and these play a critical role in providing early warnings of a fire. If you live in an older house that does not have a smoke alarm system, have one installed. A significant part of the cost can be recovered by a reduction in your insurance premiums. Having smoke alarms is one thing, maintaining them is something that many homeowners often forget about. Check your alarm system every 4 months and replace any batteries that may be weak.

3. Don’t Overload Your Wiring

Electrical short circuits are a major cause of fires in the home. Never overload your electrical wiring and when installing any device that draws a heavy amount of electricity, have a licensed electrician check the wiring and outlet to ensure that there is no chance of sparking or an overload. Old and frayed wiring running from electrical appliances to the wall outlet is another fire hazard. Check these wires for signs of wear every 6 months an immediately replace any that pose a risk. Also, check the plugs to ensure they fit tightly in the outlets. A loose fit will permit sparking and heat buildup.

4. Clean Up

Unused items tend to accumulate in most homes. Old clothes, newspapers, boxes toys etc. are often placed in a closet, garage or the attic and left there for long periods of time. These are all flammable materials and even the smallest of sparks can ignite a blaze. Make it a habit to clean out unused items from your home every couple of months.

5. Candles are Nice, But….

Candles come in many shapes, sizes, and scents and can leave your home smelling and look like the holiday season. Just remember that a candle has an open flame on top of it. Many people who use candles regularly get used to having them lit and forget to blow them out when leaving a room. Leaving a room with a candle burning for a few minutes may seem harmless but it takes just a second for a gust of wind to knock it over or for a pet or child to accidentally knock against the table it is on and cause it to fall. Always make sure that you extinguish candle when leaving the room, even if it is for a very short time.

6. Maintain Your Furnace

Because your furnace is out of sight does not mean that it should be out of mind. The function of a furnace is to produce heat and it uses fire to do so. This makes it a fire hazard. Make sure that you replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s directions since a clogged filter can lead to overheating that can damage the furnace and lead to a major fire. Also make sure that not any flammable material is stored near the furnace so that if a fire should start, it has little in the way of fuel to grow. If your furnace needs repairs, do not try to do it yourself. Tampering with the setup and settings of a furnace is very dangerous.

7. Lint Traps can be Dangerous

A clogged lint trap in your dryer can cause it to overheat and catch fire. Make sure you clean it out every time the dryer is used.

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