Believe it or not, winter is fire season. Cooking, candles, overburdened electrical outlets and people trying to stay warm with fires and space heaters all raise the risk of fire. A few precautions, however, can keep homeowners safer. Here are some tips:
- When using a fireplace, open the damper for proper ventilation.
- Never use a stove-top or oven to heat your home.
- All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, never an extension cord.
- Be alert to recurring issues with blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Investigate the cause before replacing fuses or resetting breakers or call an electrician.
Call a licensed electrician if you have:
- A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
- Discolored or warm wall outlets or switches
- A burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance
- Sparks from an outlet
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Install working smoke alarms on every level and near each sleeping area. Become familiar with state requirements for smoke detectors
- Replace the batteries annually, if needed. Some models have long-life batteries intended to last up to 10 years. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
- Ionization smoke detectors, which are less expensive, typically are faster at detecting flaming, fast-moving fires, while photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires. A third option is dual sensors, which incorporate both technologies. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends having both ionization and photoelectric alarms or to install dual sensors.
- For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the house. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Make sure everyone in the house can hear and knows how to respond to the sound of the smoke alarm. Have a meeting place (something permanent like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance away.
- Make an escape plan. Draw a floor plan of each level of the home. Discuss it with all members of your household.
Stay safe and warm this winter!