With cooler weather arriving many of us will be using our fireplaces, woodstoves, and space heaters more in the coming days.

Be sure that you have reviewed basic fire safety measures in your home. Taking a few precautions now will put your mind at ease as you settle down in front of a cozy fire during the coming months. It is a good time to review and make plans for fire safety in your home.

Here are a few tips to improve fire safety in your home this winter.

  1. Make sure you have working smoke detectors: Place them in areas that won’t trigger false alarms. Test detectors each year and replace batteries annually. Adding an additional detector, especially near sleeping areas is an easy way to improve safety.
  2. Protect the floor from sparks and embers: Use hearth rugs made of flame retardant material and fire screens to catch sparks and embers from a crackling fire. Never leave a fire unattended.
  3. Don’t burn Christmas trees, wreaths, wrapping paper or ribbons and decorations: This is one of the most common ways chimney fires get started because of the high heat generated by these items. The flames reach up through the damper area and can ignite creosote deposits.
  4. Have fully charged working fire extinguisher: Keep your extinguisher in a central location and make sure it is properly charged and ready for use.
  5. Have a fire escape plan: Your fire escape plan should have two exit routes planned. Review the plan and practice what to do in case of a fire with the entire family especially young children. In addition to two escape routes, you plan should include a safe meeting place for the family to gather once they are outside.
  6. Install a Chimney Cap: A chimney cap will keep sparks from leaping out of your chimney and possibly setting a fire outside your home. The cap also keeps moisture out of your chimney preventing deterioration of mortar joints between bricks and clay tile liners which an lead to fires inside your chimney.
  7. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector: Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas and is present in propane, natural gas and wood combustion. This is especially important if you have gas logs.
  8. Don’t forget your dryer vent: Heat and lint from your dryer vent can combust and start a house fire. Cleaning and proper venting will reduce this hazard. Replace old plastic vents with metal ones.
  9. Give heaters proper clearance: Wood, electric, kerosene, oil, and gas heaters should have safe clearances from combustible materials. Be sure these heaters are safely located so they can’t be knocked or tipped over.
  10. And of course, most importantly: Clean and inspect your chimney regularly: Chimney professionals use special inspection cameras that verify the condition of interior pipes, mortar joints, and flue liners. Regular cleaning removes dangerous deposits of creosote and other flammable materials from your chimney and ensures that your hearth is ready for use.

For more information visit: http://www.firepreventionweek.org.

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