Although we mostly associate fire with summer since that is technically fire season, the fall poses its own threats of uncontrolled flames. Much of the shrubs and trees are still quite dry for the first part of fall, and while the weather stops providing warmth, we seek it through furnaces, space heaters, and other risky alternatives. As the leaves turn red and orange, it’s time to scan your home for fire hazards so the trees are the only red and orange you see. Here are fall fire hazards to get under control, now.
Clear areas in front of fireplaces
Make sure the area surrounding the fireplace is completely clear. There shouldn’t be any potentially flammable object, like curtains, an indoor plant, or a sofa skirt, within at least seven feet of the flame.
Set space heaters on timers
If you would like to use space heaters to conserve energy and just keep one or two important rooms warm, be very careful. Space heaters are the cause of many home fires. Put them on timers so that if you forget to turn them off, they’ll turn themselves off. Also clear the area around these of pet toys, clothes, comforters, and anything flammable.
Check space heater cords
If your space heater has seen you through several cold seasons, then its cord may be wearing thin. Check the cord, and if you see any frayed wires, replace the heater immediately. Even slightly exposed wires can cause a spark, and then a fire.
Beware of cigarettes and dried leaves
If anyone in your home smokes, or you have guests who smoke outdoors, beware of piles of dry leaves. One small spark that lands on extremely dry leaves can cause a brush fire rapidly. After raking leaves, remove them from the property immediately.
Turn to electric candles
Though candles are romantic, create ambiance, and save electricity, they are major fire hazards. It’s very easy to forget to blow out candles before going to bed or leaving the home. Switch to battery-operated candles. The hassle of replacing the batteries is worth it considering the danger you’re avoiding.
Watch oven times carefully
Fall is the season for oven recipes. Roasts, turkey, pot pies—everybody loves a hot meal from the oven when it’s cold out. Stay on top of cooking times, set timers, and do not leave the home when something is in the oven. Burning food can quickly turn into a kitchen fire.
Debrief everyone on fireplace safety
Get your family together and go over fireplace safety. Make sure nobody sits too near the fire or leaves flammable objects close to the fire. All fires should be put out before the family goes to bed. Children should never start a fire.
Check up on fire extinguishers
Make sure all fire extinguishers are in working order and full. You may also want to teach everyone in the household how to use fire extinguishers.
Clear central air vents
If you plan on using central air, make sure vents are clear. This means, first and foremost, cleaning them of debris, but also clearing the area around them. You don’t want anything blocking the hot air from escaping, causing friction, and perhaps a spark.
Clean your chimney
Have your chimney cleaned before you start using your fireplace again. If air cannot properly escape above the fire, the flame may get out of control, or your home can become dangerously smoky.
Use a fireplace screen
Use a fireplace screen in front of the fire, to stop any sparks from flying across the room. Sparks can travel surprisingly far, and catch onto items a dozen feet away sometimes.
Just because the air is turning moist and cold doesn’t mean fire hazards are gone. Make sure your home is protected against fall fire hazards.