Prepare Your House for Colder Weather
As we transition to colder weather, here are a few tips and reminders of fire-related issues we see every year:
- Do an "operational check" of your furnace before it gets really cold outside. When your furnace operates for the first time after a long summer, it's normal to have a slight burning odor as the accumulated dust "burns" off of the heat exchanger or electrical coils. Sometimes there can even be enough accumulation to set off your smoke alarms, and you'll reduce the chance of a late-night smoke scare for your family.
- Regular service and cleaning by professionals will ensure your furnace is working properly and reduce your risk of carbon monoxide issues as well as excessive buildup of dust.
- Replace your furnace filter monthly, or as directed by the manufacturer.
- Ensure your flue pipe is free of obstructions before you use the fireplace for the first time this season.
- Sometimes birds or other creatures will move into your flue or behind your firebox over the summer, and their nests can catch fire or inhibit proper ventilation.
- Improper ventilation can create inefficient burning that causes carbon monoxide (CO). It can also redirect smoke and CO into your home.
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected on an annual basis, especially if you use a wood burning fireplace.
- Don't forget that fireplaces have a damper that needs opened before you light your fire.
- Only use dry, seasoned firewood in your fireplace. Green wood can lead to excessive creosote buildup in your chimney.
- If you use "starter" logs or other manufactured fireplace logs, follow the instructions. Using these logs improperly can overheat your chimney.
- Don't burn paper or use any kind of combustible liquid in your fireplace. These can also overheat your chimney.
- Remember, most homes do not have brick and mortar chimneys anymore, and overheating your flue pipe can catch nearby wood structures on fire.
- Cooking remains the leading cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in Fishers.
- Stovetop cooking needs constant attention, especially if you are using oils to cook with.
- Don't assume you're safe because you cook with an electric stove. The majority of our kitchen fires have started on electric stovetops.
- Don't use the "HIGH" setting to warm your oil.
- If you must leave the room, turn off the heat first. Avoid distractions that will take your attention away from cooking.
- If your pot or pan catches fire, putting a lid it on will extinguish most fires. Keep the proper size lid nearby when you are cooking.
- Don't waste time fighting a fire that has spread beyond the pan if you have young children that need to be evacuated. They are your first priority.
- Never use water on a fire involving oil or grease. Water will make the fire worse.
- If you are familiar with the proper use of a fire extinguisher, it may be effective if the fire is still small.
- Most injuries that occur with cooking fires are the direct result of an untrained person attempting to fight the fire. Don't risk your health or life to save the stuff in your kitchen. Get your family to safety and call 911 from outside.
- While oven fires are usually contained inside the oven, they still have the potential to cause damage and injury.
- Clean your oven regularly to avoid buildup of grease and other combustible food debris
- If you discover a fire inside your oven, do not open the door to investigate, which can feed more air to the fire and burn you.
- Leave the oven door shut, turn off the heat, evacuate your family and call 911.
- Charcoal grills, gas grills, and turkey fryers must be operated outside, away from structures.
- Turkey fryers need the constant attention we mentioned above, since they are full of hot oil. Don't forget to keep that lid handy just in case.
- Don't use your oven or stovetop as a replacement for heating your home with safer means.
- Candle-related fires increase during the holiday season.
- Use common sense when burning candles
- Establish a "safety zone" around candles, even if they are inside of a glass chimney or other container.
- Avoid lightning decorative candles that have combustible items attached to them or around their base.
- Don't allow your children to burn candles in their room.
- If you leave the room, blow out the candles first.
- Consider using battery operated safety candles. Many of them are very realistic looking.
- For scented candles, electric candle warmers offer a flameless alternative, but still need to be operated with common sense and away from nearby combustible items.