Cozy winter fires are the best, aren’t they?  Well, at least when they’re contained to a fireplace!  In the midst of these frigid temperatures, we are all spending more time inside, which is why we want YOU to be informed with ways you can prevent {non-fireplace} flames in your homes. Read on for fire prevention tips and tricks AND for a downloadable/printable checklist from the National Fire Prevention Association.

 

First of all, plain and simple common sense and awareness is the key to keeping flames at bay.  While these ideas are elementary in principle, the impact of follow-through is anything but!  Here are Ankeny Real Estate Service’s top tips for your winter fire prevention:

 

1. Heaters need space!  Anything producing heat (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater) should have ample room to do their job.  The NFPA recommends a distance of at least 3 feet between a heater and anything flammable (newspaper, kindling, firewood, clothing, upholstered furniture, bedding, etc.)  Also, take care to never use a space heater with a worn cord or one without the automatic shut-off function, should the heater get tipped over.

 

2. Keep a close eye on those cooktops and NEVER use your stove or oven to heat your home.  Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires?  It’s true!  And the perfect reason to never walk away from the stove when cooking.  Always turn off your burner before stepping away.

 

3.  Prepare your fireplace before use, then be sure to maintain and use it appropriately. Do not let dry leaves and needles pile up on your roof, then be sure the spark arrestor on your chimney is in place.  Furthermore, fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected yearly. Fireplaces should have a steady screen that prevents flying sparks.  When cleaning out your fireplace, hot (and even just warm!) ashes need to be put in an approved metal container, with an airtight lid.

 

4.  Extension cords. Thousands of fires yearly are attributed to faulty electrical cords. Cords should be checked for cracks and frays.  Additionally, never place extension cords in front of heaters, fireplaces, or any place they could fall onto a heat source.

 

5.  Candles. Because of the open-flamed nature of candles special care needs to be taken when using and handling these.  See the National Fire Prevention Association’s guide to candle safety {here}.  Summary:

● Don’t leave candles near combustibles.

● Don’t fall asleep with a candle burning.

● Burn candles in a candle holder or jar, never directly on a flammable surface.

 

6.  Install Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Detectors should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas.  Smoke alarms have, approximately, a 7-year life span, and batteries should be changed twice yearly (daylight savings times serve as great reminders).

 

7.  Safety escape route. Your family should develop and practice a home escape plan.  These plans should include two ways out of every room and an outside meeting spot. Consider investing in AND learning how to use a fire escape safety ladder.

 

For additional information on home fire prevention, be sure to visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires.

 

AND, don’t forget to click {here} for your own printable checklist from the NFPA to prepare your home for heater season.