Home Fire Safety Tips for Winter

Snow covered trees in my back yard in Newtown (WTNH / Report-It / Amanda Santoro)

(WTNH) — We all know it’s coming. Extreme cold is right around the corner, so it’s extremely important to make sure you safely prepare your house for winter.  Here are some tips that will help you ensure you have a safe, if cold, winter.

It is important to have working smoke detectors in your house. The batteries should be changed when the clocks change, and keep in mind most smoke detector models have a 5 to 10 year lifespan, so check the lifespan given by the manufacturer; if they have been around longer than that, make sure to replace them.

Before the heating system kicks in, having it serviced yearly is necessary to reduce the risk of your furnace dying, or even worse, causing a fire. Alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces and space heaters, also need to be used carefully to avoid damage or injury.

You have probably heard of a log that is meant to get rid of the creosote from your chimney. That will help you between chimney services, but make sure to have your chimney cleaned and inspected every single year by a professional to make sure the chimney is in good condition and that there are no blockages that can lead to a chimney fire or poisonous gases entering your home.

Brent Stewart, a chimney mason and contractor at Heritage Chimney in Groton, says you should get your chimney serviced after burning about 4 to 5 cords of wood, and if you use your fireplace for heat every winter, have the chimney serviced at least every year.

Space heaters are another source of supplemental heat, but make sure to keep them 3 feet away from other objects including walls. Also make sure you’re using an appropriate extension cord to prevent a fire.

Kerosene heaters are generally safe, but can be very dangerous if not used correctly, and further are not legal in all towns and cities in Connecticut.

“In New Haven, there’s a city ordinance that says kerosene heaters are prohibited”, says New Haven Deputy Fire Marshal James Hynek.  Hynek urges residents of other towns to contact authorities in their hometown about the legality of using kerosene heaters before using them.

It is also important to never use your stove or oven as a heat source for your house.

When it’s cold outside, you may be tempted to warm up the car up in the garage. Even with the garage door open, carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases can get into your home, so warm up the car in the driveway instead.

Finally, make sure you know the locations of all of fire extinguishers in your house, and that they are charged properly.  If the charge indicator arrow is not in the “green” area, get the fire extinguisher serviced right away.

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