Now that fall is in full force and winter is slowly approaching, it is common to spend more time indoors. However, this actually influences the higher number of structural fires in the fall and winter. So, as these days become shorter and the nights colder, here are a few tips to help prevent fires this winter:
  1. Cook with caution: Don’t stray too far away from the kitchen when cooking. It’s easy to get distracted while something is simmering on the stove top or baking in the oven, but try using a timer as a helpful reminder something is cooking. Also, consider keeping at least a three-foot radius around the stove as a “kid-free zone” to prevent accidental bumping of hot pots and pans.
  2. Heating the home: Since the shorts and bathing suits have been traded in for sweaters and jackets, you’re likely turning the heat on and bringing out the warm blankets. Try to keep anything that can be combustible away from heating equipment such as fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and space heaters. Have your heating equipment inspected annually by professionals to help prevent system malfunctions that could cause a fire.
  3. Candlelight: Candles can make great decorations and really accent a home, but they can also be very dangerous. Whether they are used in a jack-o-lantern or as an emergency measure during a power outage, keep candles in a sturdy holder so they won’t tip over easily. Try to keep hair and clothing away from the candle as you light it, and don’t burn a candle down to the very end.
  4. Electrical outlets: The fall and winter seasons are a time when most people begin decorating their home. A safety tip to remember when it comes to decorations is to not plug too much into an extension cord or safety strip. Big appliances should always be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Make sure electrical cords are not running under carpets or in front of doorways because they could also become a potential trip hazard.
  5. Safety equipment: A big piece in fire safety and prevention is ensuring all the equipment is working properly. It is a good idea to test all smoke alarms monthly, change batteries annually, and after ten years replace the old alarms with newer models. If there is anyone in the household who is hard of hearing, there are smoke alarms that are available that have strobe lights to visually alert them to a fire.

Fall and winter can be beautiful seasons filled with holidays, good food, and cozy nights with the family. Don’t let a fire prevent you from spending this season with your family. For more tips and fire prevention information, check out the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

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