By Dan Chapman
With the cold weather moving in, it’s time for to break out the winter jacket, dust off the copy of A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot you’re eye out kid!”) and hang some Christmas lights outside.
Winter is the season when most stay indoors and enjoy their new home by bundling up or turning on the heat. There are some important safety precautions to keep in mind to ensure your new home is protected from the winter chill (and the heat that comes with it).
House fires are more common in winter than in any other season, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and, although your new home sports high-end amenities and state-of-the-art HVAC systems, there are still some practical ways you can further ensure the safety of your home. Check out these helpful fire safety tips to protect both your family and your home this winter:
Space Heater Do’s and Don’ts
Although space heaters are a handy and affordable option for warming up a small space, they must be handled with caution. Space heaters cause about one-third of all heating equipment fires in the United States annually, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).
To help prevent fires caused by space heaters, be sure to keep your space heater three feet from anything that is flammable, such as fabrics, wood and walls. Placing flammable items close to a heater is the leading cause of fatalities in home heating-related fires, according to the NFPA.
You should place space heaters in the center of the room, advises the NFPA. It’s also advised to plug the heater directly into an outlet, but if that’s not possible, use a heavy duty extension cord (the shorter the better).
Time For a Chimney Sweep
If you’re a homeowner with a fireplace, first of all, pat your self on the back for picking an awesome option for your home. Fireplace maintenance will go a long way in keeping your family and home protected from fires. Have your chimney cleaned and swept before you use it each season. This will help prevent creosote and soot build-up, which can block your chimney, sending smoke and gases into your home, or worse, it can cause a house fire.
Before Firing Up the Furnace
Depending on where you live, your new home might have come with a modern-style furnace. Since your new home and new HVAC is probably in amazing condition, chances are you won’t have any major issues come winter.
But Will Hawkins, an HVAC specialist in San Antonio, Texas, still suggests “regularly (cleaning) the duct registers to clean out any dust from the system to reduce fumes and odors that can come into the home.”
Moreover, the NFPA suggests getting your furnace inspected and serviced every 12 months.
Take Care of Your Alarms
Finally, make sure your smoke alarms work properly. If they’ve been low on battery power in recent days, you’ve probably noticed the unsettling shrill of an alarm crying out for attention. Put in a fresh set of batteries.
Don’t forget a carbon monoxide detector too. Carbon monoxide is toxic, flammable and odorless, so it’s important to make sure you have a working detector handy.
House fires throughout the winter are very common. By following the directions on each heating product your bring into your home, maintaining heating units and fireplaces and ensuring fire alarms are ready for any emergency, you’ll greatly decrease the risk of a house fire this winter.
Dan Chapman is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find him on Google+.