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Put the Freeze on Winter Fires

Did you know that house fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season? Our increased use of alternative heating (like portable electric heaters and fireplaces) and open-flame candles, coupled with our tendency to cook and bake more, can mean fire danger. To keep your family safe, here are a few winter fire safety tips:

Candles. Keep open-flame candles in sturdy holders and at least 12 inches from anything flammable. Be sure to extinguish them before bed or before you leave the house. Better yet, use flameless electric candles or fragrance warmers instead for the same effects. And use flashlights, not candles, if the lights go out!

Wood stoves. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and check it regularly for cracks, especially at joints and seams. Use only dry, seasoned wood (or wood pellets) for fuel.

Fireplaces. Have your chimney inspected for dangerous creosote buildup, obstructions, or cracks. Be sure to dispose of ashes only when completely cooled (douse them with water, too), and only in a metal container that’s stored at least 10 feet away from your home.

Space heaters. If you must use portable electric heaters, purchase ones that are U/L listed and that have the safety feature of turning off if tipped over. Never dry anything in front of the heater or place it near flammables, such as
curtains. Be sure to unplug it when not in use.

Cooking and baking. When frying food or cooking on top of the stove, stay in the kitchen. Keep clothing, towels, and pot holders away from the stove top, too. Be sure to turn off the oven and burners when you’re done, and never use the range or oven to heat your home.

Smoke alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. Install them on every level of your home, including the basement, and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

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