Winter is a wonderful time to enjoy a cheery fire in the fireplace, but no one wants to be the subject of a front-page story about a home destroyed by fire. Here are the top 12 winter fire protection tips from QRFS to be sure that story isn't about your home.
1. Be careful with open flames of any kind. Fireplaces, candles and even your outdoor fire pit should never be left unattended. Always use fire screens, and keep candles away from fuel sources, including those lovely table decorations. Outdoor fire pits should be completely extinguished after use, since a gust of wind could blow embers into winter-dried foliage or onto your roof. Keep wood and other flammable material safely stored away from the fire area.
2. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected annually for cracks, obstructions caused by birds or rodents, creosote buildup, and loose bricks in the firebox. Be sure dampers work properly.
3. Be sure you have portable fire extinguishers close to any open flame.
4. Check portable extinguishers to be sure they are still in the green (charged and usable) range.
5. Move furniture, drapes and paper away from heating sources. Even baseboard heaters can get hot enough to melt plastic trash cans or toys.
6. Check portable heaters for frayed cords, and invest in units that shut themselves off if they tip over. Never leave portable units running unattended.
7. Vacuum or blow out furnaces, baseboard units, and portable heaters to remove dust and debris that may have accumulated over the warm months.
8. Test all holiday lighting and check for shorts and breaks in the wiring. Never use indoor-rated lights outside, and don't exceed the manufacturers recommendation when attaching one light strand to another. To save energy and increase safety, attach the lights to a timer that will shut them off when the home is unattended, or shut them off manually if you leave for an extended period of time.
9. If your winter routine involves opening a vacation cabin or home for winter fun, inspect the area for rodent nests, operational readiness of all heating devices, and double-check all electrical connections and wiring for damage.
10. If you have a sprinkler system that is in a freeze zone, you may be able to use anti-freeze in the system if it meets the standards set forth in the 2012 revisions of NFPA Section 5.4.2 and A5-4-2(1).This is a job that has to be performed and inspected annually by a professional, since an incorrect mixture or product can actually increase the fire danger.
11. Don't use an open flame such as a propane torch to thaw out water pipes.
12. Keep Christmas trees well watered and use floral preservative or sugar water to keep the tree needles as green and most as possible.
Have a happy and safe holiday season from all of us at QRFS!