15 Jan Reduce Your Risk of Winter Fires
Living in North Central Massachusetts, we are no strangers to how weather can impact our home, apartment, condo, or rental property, especially during the winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home and apartment fires occur more often in the winter than in any other season. And it makes sense — this is the time of year when we spend more time by the fireplace, near the space heater, or in the living room with scented candles.
Here at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance, we want to ensure that you have professional, knowledgeable, and caring advice — not only about the right home insurance but also in the situations when you need it most. Most home or apartment fires occur as a result of easily preventable negligence, which is why we’ve put together the following collection of tips to help keep you, your family, and your property safe and reduce your risk of experiencing the devastating effects of a fire. There’s no place like your home, so let ABM help you protect it.
Space Heaters and Fireplaces
It’s that time of year again — colder months are upon us. Space heaters are an extremely popular method of warming up during the winter, but they are also the second leading cause of home fires. If you’re using portable space heaters to keep warm at home, here are a few safety precautions to follow:
- Before turning on your space heater, inspect it for cracked wiring or broken plugs. If the space heater is damaged in any way, absolutely do not use it.
- When using a space heater, always make sure that you have it placed on a flat, level surface, at least three feet away from flammable objects such as blankets or clothing.
- Space heaters use a lot of electricity, so always plug them directly into a wall outlet.
- Never use an extension cord or power strip with a space heater, as the amount of electricity they pull can cause a circuit overload, which can result in a fire.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn off and unplug the heater when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Double-check any space heaters you were using before going to bed or leaving your home to make sure they are off and unplugged.
- Make sure your space heater has an anti-tipping feature. This will ensure that if your space heater is knocked over, it will turn off.
If you make use of a fireplace or wood/pellet burning stove in your home, here are a few tips and procedures to be mindful of.
Fireplace safety tips:
- After being out of use for a number of months, it is important to have your chimney inspected by a certified professional annually. Debris can build up within the walls of your chimney, which can lead to a home fire.
- Make use of a fireplace screen and keep it closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto surfaces within your home.
- Never leave a lit fire unattended.
- Avoid placing flammable items within 10 feet of your fireplace.
Woodburning stove safety tips:
- Proper ventilation is key for any wood burning stove system — be sure your wood stove complies with all fire codes and inspect your ventilation system before lighting your stove for the first time of the season.
- Install and test carbon monoxide detectors near your stove.
- Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and use only recommended pellets for your stove.
Install and Regularly Check Smoke Detectors
The NFPA recommends that your home has smoke detectors installed on every floor, as well as one for each bedroom. Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls and close to ceilings because smoke rises.
- In the kitchen: be sure to place your smoke detector at least 10 feet away from any cooking appliances to avoid triggering a false alarm while cooking.
- In the basement: place the smoke alarm on the ceiling near the bottom step of the stairs that lead up to the first floor.
Be sure to regularly check your smoke detectors by pressing the test button and replace the batteries at least once if not twice per year. If your smoke detector is “chirping” that means it is time to replace the batteries, or it may be alerting you of a disconnected battery/wiring issue.
Fire extinguishers are helpful for putting out/minimizing the damage of small fires quickly. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher readily available in your home and that you know how to use it. You can contact your local fire department for fire extinguisher training — follow these simple recommendations from the U.S. Fire Administration.
Preventing Electrical Fires
Electrical malfunctions are one of the leading causes of home fires. When making any changes or renovations to your home, make sure you are working with a qualified electrician. Avoid making electrical changes to your home yourself — leave it to the professionals.
Be sure to check the cords and electricity usage in your home regularly.
- Make sure cords do not run across doorways or underneath rugs or carpets or anywhere they can be easily damaged.
- Limit the number of plugs you have on an outlet or power strip.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for the lamps in your home.
Here at ABM, we have first-hand experience in helping our home insurance clients face the devastating results of house fires. Even if you follow all of the above safety tips, accidents can happen. This is why it’s important to have a local, professional, independent insurance agent to help you choose the right home insurance, apartment insurance or condominium insurance, – insurance that will protect what’s most important to you.
If you’re a homeowner, landlord, renter or condominium owner, contact one of ABM’s knowledgable, professional agents today to learn more about the insurance that’s right for you and your home. Please call (800) 783-5133 or visit our website today.