Winter Fire Safety Tips
by Pro Home Manager
With cold weather on its way in many parts of the country, this is a good time to review best practices for home fire safety. Fireplaces and wood burning stoves may be romantic but they are also increasingly used as sources of heat to reduce utility bills. Keep these tips in mind when using them:

• Fireplaces and wood stoves should be properly installed. In particular, stoves should be at least 36 inches from combustible surfaces and should have proper floor support and protection.

• Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and be UL listed.

• Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used in some time.

• Never use flammable liquids to start or accelerate a fire.

• Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening.

• Keep flammable materials away from the mantel.

• Be sure the fire is out before you go to bed.

• Never close a damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. The fire could easily restart and release toxic carbon monoxide into your home.

• If you use synthetic logs, follow package directions. Never break up a synthetic log and don’t use more than one at a time to minimize release of carbon monoxide gas.

• Never discard hot ashes near your home. Place them in a metal container and well away from the house.

There are other fire hazards you should be aware of and avoid this winter. Don’t use a range or oven as a heating device. It can be a safety hazard and can potentially release dangerous fumes. If you use an electric heater, don’t overload the circuit. Use an extension cord with the necessary rating to carry the amp load. Finally, if your pipes freeze, don’t try to thaw them with an open flame.

Although we all try to prevent house fires, we should be prepared in the event they occur. Be sure you have smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near the bedrooms. Test them monthly. Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family. If a window is a planned escape route, be sure it opens easily and consider using a home escape ladder. Help out your local fire department by keeping your local fire hydrant free from snow so it can be easily located.

Many thanks to the Tenafly, NJ Fire Department for the information in this article.





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