It’s getting colder here in New Hartford and the greater Utica area so we’re seeing the furnace revved up, fireplace going, and candles lit throughout the house. And all contribute to the risk of house fires.
So in light of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, we thought we’d offer some quick tips to help you keep warm and enjoy the crackling fire without suffering a devastating fire loss.
So let’s take a look at some typical winter accoutrements in the home that can turn into serious fire hazards. We consulted the National Fire Protection Association and as they say, “Let’s put a freeze on winter fires.”
Two of every five home heating fires start from space heaters. They account for 84% of deaths from heating equipment, 75% of injuries, and 52% of property damages. The leading cause of deaths was ignition of space heaters when the unit was too close to combustible items such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, and bedding.
The tip here is to keep your space heater in a place away from any of your stuff. And don’t fall asleep or go to bed with the space heater on. If you can, turn it off for the night. Or at least get it away from anything that will burn.
Fireplace Chimney Fires
The leading cause of home heating fires is a failure to clean solid-fueled equipment, which means chimneys. We’ve posted about this before, dirty chimneys cause fires that can severely damage your home.
Chimney fires usually start because of a buildup of creosote. It’s created from the smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog, and assorted minerals that shoot up the chimney and out of your house. As they flow up into the cooler chimney, condensation occurs that sticks to the chimney wall as creosote.
Creosote is a black or brown silt that might be crusty and flaky, tar-like, or shiny and hardened. Whichever it is in your chimney, it’s highly combustible.
You can help prevent buildup by burning seasoned wood, maintaining an adequate air supply for the fire, and not overloading the fire box or fireplace with wood. And, most importantly, have your chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep before the season begins.
Most electrical fires in the home involve electrical distribution, lighting equipment, and washer/dryer fans. Some tips here include adding more electrical outlets if you find that you’re using a lot of extension cords.
Along the same lines, if you add more outlets you won’t have to run cords underneath rugs or carpets where they can get damaged. Also, use light bulbs that meet the wattage requirements of your lamps.
Christmas Candles and Trees
Here’s an unsurprising stat: the top four days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. And about 36% of candle fires start in bedrooms. The problem is, of course, that people enjoying the candlelight fall asleep allowing the candle to burn down and ignite what’s around it.
So don’t light candles where there’s a good chance you’ll fall asleep. Use sturdy candle holders, put the candles on a solid, uncluttered surface, and put the candle out before it burns all the way down.
The NFPA says that Christmas tree fires are rare, but they can occur if the tree is dry. In fact, 40% of home fires from Christmas trees occur in January, as the tree dries out. So keep the tree watered and try to take it down as soon after New Year’s as you can.
In our experience here at SZW Insurance, home fires can be devastating for a family. Yes, we are here to help pay for the damages to your house and contents, but the trauma is not worth it. We hope you’ve at least skimmed these tips as reminders to help you keep your winter indoors cozy, fun, and safe.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.