Protecting a Home from Fire

Your home is often your most significant investment. Even if it isn’t, the contents and family are priceless. Being in the home remodeling business, we see homeowners rebuild following disasters and catastrophic events. One of those that can nearly always be avoided is fire. So, today we’re going to talk about some ways to protect your home from fire in the wintertime.

Fireplace

Before it gets any chillier, call your chimney sweep for your annual cleaning. Keeping the chimney clean can help avoid the buildup of creosote. Your chimney sweep will inspect for creosote, and also for bird’s nests, bats, and anything else which might have found its way into your chimney during the summer.

Also, fires should only be made with dry, seasoned wood. A metal or glass screen will prevent flying sparks. Ashes should be removed when they’re cold or can be stored safely in a metal container at least three feet from flammable materials.

Portable heaters

Portable heaters are a means to heat a small area and only when the room is occupied. A portable heater should never be left on when the occupants are sleeping. It should be UL approved and the area around it should be kept free of anything flammable, including clothing, toys, and even lint and debris.

Portable heaters usually require three feet at the very minimum of space around them to be safe.

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Electrical fires

There are about 51,000 electrical fires in the U.S. every year. They cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Electrical fires are often caused by arcing, which can sometimes be heard in the walls or outlets as a humming, crackling, or buzzing in the walls. If your home is an older one, the best thing to do is to be proactive! Older homes inspected by a certified electrician and consider having AFCI outlets or breakers installed in bedrooms.

During the remodeling process, old wiring is often replaced and the circuit breaker box upgraded to fit our society’s more electronically-oriented lifestyle.

Electric appliances should always be used with caution. Extension cords should only be used as a temporary measure and never used with heat appliances such as heaters, electric blankets, skillets, etc. Devices used in the bathroom, kitchen, or outdoors should only be used with a GFCI outlet.

A safety plan

In the interest of safety, children should never be left alone with any heating device, whether it’s a fireplace, skillet, or portable heater.

Every home should have a smoke detector on every floor and in every room where people sleep. Smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, AFCI and GFCI outlets should be tested monthly. Have an evacuation plan and practice it.

During a home remodel, some families have AFCI breakers put in areas of the house which aren’t part of a remodeling project, as they are more sensitive to changes in current and will detect arcing. It’s an excellent investment in safety.