Now that the weather is getting cooler, and especially the nights, people spend more time inside their homes using fireplaces, furnaces, and heaters to keep warm. Or you might light up the fire pit outside to roast marshmallows with the kids. There’s nothing quite as cozy as a fire, but they can present some safety hazards.
Last week we posted a reminder to check your smoke alarms expiration date. That is a great first step, but here are a few more suggestions for ensuring safe practices this fall when it comes to heating and fires:
- Maintain your furnace — This is the best time to conduct your annual furnace servicing before it gets too cold by calling a professional! Your furnace is one of the most important appliances in your home. A specialist should inspect the furnace to make sure everything is in working order and that there are no leaks, including having the filters cleaned or replaced. Check to see if you have an annual service contract, which will greatly bring down costs on this important maintenance step.
- Ensure fireplace vigilance — You should also get your chimney inspected. Hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney of debris, nests, etc. before your light your first fire. Use the fireplace screens to protect from flying sparks and embers. Never pour lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline on a fireplace! For both indoor and outdoor fires, never leave a fire unattended and always make sure a fire is completely out before going to bed.
- Use space heaters sparingly — A space heater can be an effective way to warm up a chilly room, but it’s essential that you read the instructions on the unit before you use it. If your space heater requires venting, make sure you have vented it to the outdoors. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home; only use space heaters that are approved for this purpose. Always allow at least three feet of empty area around space heaters.
- Switch to battery operated candles — Never leave real wax candles unattended, especially in Jack-O-Lanterns or on table centerpieces. These are a huge fire hazard especially when children and/or pets are in the home, and might knock over the candles. Battery operated candles will provide the prefect glow for Jack-O-Lanterns and table centerpieces!
- Reconsider leaf burning — Burning leaves produces dangerous chemicals, and it is suggested to avoid disposing of leaves this way. If you decide to burn leaves, wear a protective mask. Burning leaves should only be attempted far away from a house or other structures on a homeowner’s property. Always check the weather forecast before starting to burn leaves. This activity should not be attempted in windy conditions. Flying embers can travel and start fires. Do not do any outdoor burning when fire dangers are high.
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors — When we “fall back” is the time when everyone should replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s also a good idea to have a working fire extinguisher in the house, and everyone who lives there should be familiar with how it works. Hold a Fire Safety Meeting with family members and go over the steps!