Protect Your Home from Fires This Winter

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Winter's low temperatures mean turning up the heat at home. Additionally, the holiday season often involves putting up decorations around the house. Unsafe practices can increase fire hazards, making constant vigilance and smoke alarm maintenance doubly important. Here are a few home security tips to help prevent fires this winter and keep your family safe.

Check your smoke alarm Your first line of defense in a house fire is a working smoke alarm. The National Fire Protection Association advised homeowners to install these devices outside every bedroom and on every level. Additionally, they suggested connecting the units so that all the alarms will trigger if one goes off. Check the equipment monthly and change its batteries annually. A working device should be replaced every ten years and sooner if it isn't functioning properly.

Cook safely According to the NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency advised homeowners to always stay in the kitchen while the burner is on to help prevent kitchen fires. It's also important to keep an eye out for any warning signs, such as smoke. Place pots and pans with their handles facing away to prevent the items from being bumped. In the event of a kitchen fire, have a pan lid or baking sheet ready to put over the flames. 

Stay warm The frigid temperatures may lead you to make use of a handy space heater. These devices are versatile and have many benefits. However, improper use can present fire hazards. Never leave a device unattended, especially if there are young children or pets present in the household. Place the unit away from flammable materials. Avoid using units with exposed heating units or wiring.

Decorate carefully The holiday season calls for festive decorations, but it's important to celebrate safely.  As relaxing as a candle flame may be, it's safer to use electric candles. Additionally, it's important to keep your Christmas tree watered. FEMA stated that Christmas tree fires are rare but deadly. A fire will spread quickly on a dry tree, whereas maintained trees provide less kindling. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised homeowners to connect no more than three strings of holiday lights to a single extension cord and to check each light for exposed or damaged parts.

With low temperatures and the holiday season, it can be easy to overlook basic fire precautions. However, maintaining smoke alarms and remembering to be careful will ensure that your family has a fun and safe holiday season this winter. 

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