Fire Prevention Tips for a Warm and Safe Winter Season

Winter is a time of cold days and even colder nights. That means lots of fires burning in fireplaces, plenty of fuel burned in wood stoves and space heaters running at full blast.

What it all adds up to is an increase in fire danger. There is a reason why home fires spike when the weather turns colder — but you do not have to become just another statistic. With the right planning and fire prevention tips, you can keep your home and family safe no matter how cold it gets.

Exercise Smart Disposal Procedures

Whether you have a fireplace or a wood stove, you will have ashes left over after all the combustible material has burned. Emptying the wood stove or fireplace regularly is one of the best ways to prevent fires, but how you dispose of those ashes matters.

Always keep a fireproof metal container outside, and fill it with ashes every time you empty the stove or fireplace. Do not let the can inside the house — take it outside right away and dispose of it far away from the house, shed or other buildings.

Keep fire extinguishers inside in relevant rooms, and consider keeping one outside in a shed or garage. Just make sure they're taken care of and replaced as needed.

Be Smart About Space Heating

If you have a large home, you can save a lot of money by heating only the rooms you and your family use. Setting up space heaters and using them judiciously can reduce your winter energy bills significantly, but the improper use of these devices could increase the risk of fire.

Always make sure there is plenty of room around the space heater, and never hang clothes or other materials over the heater. Check the recall list before using the space heater, and make sure the heater is designed to shut off if it tips over..

Be Careful with Frozen Pipes

Winter comes with the risk of frozen pipes, especially during extended periods of sub-freezing weather. If your pipes do freeze, use caution when trying to thaw them out.

Never attempt to thaw frozen pipes using a blowtorch or other open flame. Doing so could spark a fire fast and even cause the loss of your home. You can try using heated tape wrapped around the frozen pipes, run hot water on them or use a handheld hair dryer to thaw them.

Know Your Evacuation Routes

You hope that your careful attention to preventing fires will work and that your home will never experience a disaster. Even so, accidents happen, and when they do the safety of your family should be your number one concern.

One of the best ways to protect your family and increase their odds of survival in a fire is to have an evacuation plan in place. Set up an evacuation plan for every room of the house, and establish a central meeting place so you can make sure everyone is accounted for. Running regular fire drills can enhance the safety of your family even more. It may seem like overkill, but making sure everyone knows exactly what to do in a fire is a vital part of home safety.