Fire Safety

Winter Weather Outlook

Home fires happen often during the winter months, so what are some of the issues that help to create these fires and what can we do to help to prevent them? Well we’re going to head on over here to the Illinois fire service institute to see if we can get some answers.

As we head deeper and deeper into the holiday season, people will be flocking to hotspots…. oh, not those hotspots, but these. There comes a certain risk however, when these hotpots haven’t been used in a while.

“At least the chimney at the start of the season should be cleaned and inspected. Look for any kind of cracks or problems with that and then once that’s approved then again as you’re building, watch it and keep it clean.” – John High, Prevention & Investigations Program Manager

Now on to the fire.

“Check the chimney. Make sure it’s open. Make sure the damper is open, so again if that’s closed, the gases have nowhere to go but out into the room. If you have a sparker rester on top, might want to look at that to make sure birds have not built a nest up there or squirrels have got in there and done some kind of destruction that would prevent the hot gases from escaping. We always tell everyone to use hardwoods not the softwoods that have sap and maple. When you burn those, that material has unburned combustion products they build up in the chimney. And then we have the chance of them catching fire in there creating a fire in the chimney. Keep a screen in place in front so if there are any embers or ashes that pop out, they’re not going to get out into the room or the carpet or anything like that.” – John High

Not only do open flames create hazards, but so do space heaters.

“With a space heater you want to make sure that it is in good condition. Check the electrical cords to make sure that there is no fraying of the wiring, or anything there. You also want to make sure that it is a newer one that is equipped with motion or tip switch so that if it does get knocked over it will shut itself off. And then the biggest thing we tell people is that we need a 3-foot clearance around the space heater from any kind of combustibles and stuff. Turn it off when you go to bed or if you leave the room.” – John High

And with the holidays approaching, there are a few risks to also keep in mind.

“If you’re going to have a live tree, you want to make sure it stays watered. Once they start drying out, that creates a real hazard. If you’re going to use lighting, you want to make sure it’s underwriter’s approved lighting, that it has been tested. A lot of the new l-e-d lights burn cooler. They don’t create as much heat.” – John High

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