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Winter Fire Safety

Winter holidays can be a joyous time for all, but nearly 50% of civilian fire deaths occur from November to February.  

Most heating fires involve fireplaces and chimneys.

The most dangerous place to be, with regard to fire, is in your own home. Your home can be a cozy, warm place away from a harsh winter, but it can also become dangerous if you don’t take special precautions.

Fire Prevention Tips

  • Keep children a safe distance away from fireplaces, stoves, furnaces and water heaters.
  • Use a yardstick to measure the distance between heating equipment and material that could catch on fire.
  • Three feet of clearance is the minimum.
  • Always turn off portable heating appliances when leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Put out the fire in the fireplace completely before going to bed.
  • Do not burn holiday wrappings in a fireplace as you may cause a chimney fire.
  • Have chimneys, fireplaces and other heating devices inspected by a qualified professional at the start of every heating season.
  • Use a sturdy screen or glass closure in front of your fireplace, and burn only clean fireplace wood.
  • Never burn treated lumber.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, and test them monthly.
  • If you smell gas in your home, contact the gas company or a professional heating contractor and follow their advice.
  • Inspect heat tape before using it.
  • Never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame.

Winter Safety Tips

  • Protect your neighborhood by keeping your nearest fire hydrant clear of snow.
  • After holiday parties, be sure to check wastebaskets and furniture for smoldering cigarettes.
  • Place holiday decorations well away from heat sources.
  • If you have a tree, water it daily.
  • Pay attention when cooking.
  • If a pan is on fire, cover it with a lid.
  • Water will cause the fire to spread.
  • Turn off and unplug lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving your house.
  • Buy electrical decorations that have been approved by a national testing laboratory.
  • Do not overload your electrical outlets.

Candle Burning Safety Tips

  • Avoid using candles during a power outage. A flashlight is a safer option.
  • Remember the “three-foot rule” - anything flammable needs to be kept three feet from a heat source.
  • Keep candles away from flammable liquids.
  • Do not use a candle for light when fueling a kerosene heater or lantern.
  • The flame may ignite the fumes.
  • Don’t carry a lit candle around the house.
  • Place candles on a secure surface in sturdy non-flammable holders that won’t tip over.
  • Make sure the holder is large enough to catch drippings.
  • Candles should always be kept out of a child’s reach and away from pets.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a room with a lit candle.
  • Keep candles away from curtains, tablecloths, books, and paper.
  • Remember to extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.