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Winter Fire Safety


One of the best parts of winter may be the coziness—warming up by a fire, mountains of blankets, and comfort food. When it’s too cold outside, we migrate indoors to find heat.


However, to stay warm during a cold snap, you may unknowingly increase your risk of fire. Though it’s chilly outside, home fires are more frequent in winter than any other season, notably in December through February.


Before you add another log to the fire or crank up your space heater, below are some tips to stay safe and minimize your fire risk.


1. Use Your Space Heater Responsibly

As temperatures drop, plugging in a space heater is a no-brainer. These small heat sources provide added warmth, but they can’t go just anywhere. They should be at least three feet away from anything flammable—including upholstered furniture and bedding. 


Do you have a space heater? If so, remember to:

  • Turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

  • Never store clothing or other items around the unit.

  • Keep a kid-free zone around the heater; they should be three feet away or more.


2. Have Caution with Candles

Flickering candles cast an inviting glow and add a warm scent to a room, but these burning wicks can become a safety hazard without supervision. When you light candles, keep them at least a foot away from anything that could catch fire. 


Here are some additional precautions to take with candles:

  • Never leave them burning unattended.

  • Keep them out of reach of children and always have a responsible adult around when candles are lit with children nearby.

  • Make it a point to check that all candles are blown out before bed or leaving a room.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Kitchen

Gathering around a hearty meal creates warmth and connection in a home. The flip side of home-cooked meals and goodies is that stovetops and ovens are major contributors to home fires and injuries. 


Stay safe in the kitchen this winter by following these guidelines:

  • Check on food regularly (even if it needs to simmer, bake, or roast for a long time)

  • Stay in the kitchen.

  • Do not leave children unattended.

  • Use a timer as a reminder to turn off the oven and stovetop.

  • Check your ventilation and use the stove vent or exhaust fan to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. 

4. Consider your String Lights and Other Decorations

Though the December holiday season is behind us, there are still lights and decorations that may pose a potential hazard in your home. Plug-in decor, from string lights to novelty lamps, can have broken sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections. If this is true for your decorations, it’s time to dispose of them safely.


Some other considerations when it comes to decorating:

  • Avoid overloading your outlets, as this can overwhelm and overheat your circuits, increasing fire risk.

  • Keep paper (and other decorations) at least three feet away from heat sources, including candles, lights, and fireplaces.

  • Unplug decorations when they’re not in use.

5. Get a Fire Extinguisher

Seconds count in emergencies, and a well-placed fire extinguisher can make a significant difference. Store fire extinguishers in easily accessible areas, especially in high-risk zones like the kitchen and garage. 


Some things to keep in mind:

  • Get a multi-rated fire extinguisher capable of handling various household fires

  • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher so you’re ready if you ever have to use it.


Additional Winter Fire Safety Tips

The five tips above will help keep you safe this winter, but there are more things you can do:

  • Check your smoke alarms monthly

  • Regularly service your heating systems, chimneys, and vents

  • Create an escape plan in case of a fire emergency

  • Store flammable items like blankets, papers, and curtains away from heaters and heating equipment


Prioritize Safety this Winter

It doesn’t take much time to make sure you and your family practice good fire safety habits. Being cautious ensures your home stays safe and warm this season.

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