As we celebrate another Labor Day, Des Moines residents get ready for the inevitable change in weather. Fortunately, the temperatures already show signs of seasonal relief from the summer heat. While technically autumn doesn’t begin until September 22, Service Legends knows early preparation is important. While scheduling annual furnace maintenance should be on your list, fall fire safety is also a concern that should be addressed. When the temperatures fall and the days get shorter, we spend more time inside our homes. Furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters are all relied upon for keeping us warm, and seasonal celebrations sometimes include burning candles. Today we look at some practical tips for keeping your household safe from fire hazards this fall.
Fire Safety Tools
First, it’s important to assess your fire safety tools to make sure that they are all in working condition. It would also be a good time to go over fire safety procedures with the entire household.
Smoke Detectors – Try to change out the batteries of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors every fall and spring. If they are more than 10 years old, they should be replaced. Make sure that there is one placed outside all bedrooms, inside all bedrooms, the kitchen and at least one on every level of the home.
Fire Extinguishers – If you have fire extinguishers, test that they are fully charged and operational.
The NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) estimates that heating equipment was involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. residential fires (from 2009 – 2013). This resulted in 470 deaths, 1, 490 injuries and $1.0 billion in direct property damage.
Clean Area – Though space heaters cause the greatest percentage of residential fires, it is important to note that the leading factor contributing to the ignition of home heating fire deaths was equipment too close to objects that are flammable. Clean around the area of the furnace, removing all trash and combustibles. Never store materials such as paint thinner or gasoline in the same area as your furnace.
Duct Registers – Though it’s not a good idea to close any duct registers, some households still try to keep certain rooms from heating/cooling. Never close off more than 20% of the registers as this can cause air resistance and heat buildup in your furnace.
Chimney – Inspect the furnace chimney for any cracks, bents or signs of wear.
Maintenance – Make sure that you have annual maintenance performed on your furnace before you tune it on for the season.
According to the NFPA, the leading factor contributing to residential heating fires (30%) was a failure to clean solid-fueled heating equipment (primarily chimneys).
Clean Sweep – The NFPA recommends that chimneys be inspected at least once a year before use. A professional chimney sweep will inspect the chimney for cracks, lose bricks and other problems that may have occurred over the summer. You can find a certified chimney sweep by visiting the CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) website.
Fireplace Inspection – A thorough chimney sweep will check all areas of the fireplace, but before you use it, make sure that the area is clean and ready for use.
Chimney Cap – Make sure that your chimney cap is in working condition. If it’s been compromised by the elements or wildlife, get it replaced or repaired before you begin using the fireplace.
Keep Fires Small – Try not to overload the fireplace with too much wood. A large fire that is too hot and produces a lot of smoke can crack the chimney. Smaller, more contained fires will produce less smoke and less creosote buildup.
Take Proper Safety Precautions – Always use an effective fire guards to prevent embers from causing a fire. Protect the firebox with a mesh metal screen (that is an appropriate size to cover the entire area) or install glass doors.
Space Heater Safety
Space heaters, both portable and stationary, were responsible for two of every five (40%) of residential heating fires and four out of five (84%) of residential heating deaths based on annual averages from 2009 – 2013. Source
Placement – When placing a space heater, make sure that there is at least three feet of space around the perimeter. Never place a space heater close to a bad or window curtain.
Inspection – If you are just getting your space heater out of storage for the season, give it a thorough inspection. Check to see that the alarm, automatic shut-off, safety lights and other essential features are working properly.
Water Fixtures – Keep your space heater out of the bathroom, kitchen and any area where it might come into contact with water.
Turn Off – Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Also, never leave unattended children around a portable heater; turn it off and, if possible, remove it from the room altogether.
Candle Fire Safety
From 2009 – 2013 there were an estimated 9,300 residential fires caused by candles. They caused 3% of reported residential fires, 3% of residential deaths and 6% of residential fire injuries. Source
Keep in Safe Areas – Keep candles at least a foot away from anything flammable and place in areas where they are unlikely to be knocked down or touched by kids or pets.
Extinguish Candles – Always extinguish your candles when you leave the room. Before you go to bed make sure that there are no candles still lit in the house – and don’t light candles in the bedroom.
Watch the Candle Level – Never allow a candle to burn all the way down to the end of the wick. Put the fire out before it reaches the end of the holder.
Oxygen Machines – Never burn a candle in a home where there is an oxygen machine.
Flameless Candles – Try using flameless candles instead. They have various designs that give off light like real candles and some even have fragrances.
Thank you for making Service Legends the #1 provider of residential heating and air conditioning in the Des Moines area. A live and friendly customer care representative is ready to take your call 24/7 at 515-COMFORT (515.266.3678).