Winter Fire Prevention
Winter in Minnesota can be snowy and bright…or windy and cold. Either way, it’s important to make sure your family is safe from accidents that can happen inside when it gets cold outside.
In the winter, heating and cooking are the most common causes of fires at home. Fires usually start when towels, paper, or clothing are too close to candles, the stove or fireplace.
Space heaters can also start fires when left too close to furniture, curtains, or clothing.
Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that burns and never buy a space heater without a safety switch that turns the space heater off should it accidentally fall on the floor.
Fireplaces help heat the house, but if the chimney isn’t clean, dangerous fires can start. Have an expert check the chimney each year to be sure it is safe. When lighting fires, use clean wood - never paper - and close fire doors so flames and smoke stay in the chimney.
If you decorate for a winter holiday, turn off the lights and blow out candles before you sleep or leave the house. Plants and trees should be watered often so they don’t dry out and spark a fire from stoves, heaters, candles or holiday lights.
It only takes a few seconds for candles to start a fire. Remember the "three feet" rule? Keep candles at least three feet away from clothing or furniture. Melting wax can spread fire to papers, so keep candles in containers big enough to hold hot wax. And make sure children and pets don’t get close to candles either.
To protect your family, buy and install smoke alarms. Most fire deaths happen in homes without smoke detectors with fresh batteries to sound an alarm when fire starts.
It’s also good to talk to your family about what they should do to get out of the house fast when there is fire. Fire alarms will give you time to get out…but smoke and heat can make it hard to see the way. Talk to the fire department for safety tips. Fire is one danger, but a poison gas called carbon monoxide might be more dangerous because you can’t see, taste it, or even smell it.
Carbon monoxide can leak from gas appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, or kitchen stoves. Never use a charcoal or barbeque grill in your house because these give off lots of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide also comes from cars. Always start the car engine outside or leave the garage door open. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for the flu because it makes you sick with a headache, stomach ache, dizziness, and vomiting.
If symptoms improve when you leave your house, it may be carbon monoxide that is making you sick. If you feel sick, try opening windows or if necessary, get out of the house and see a doctor or medical professional for help. It’s a good idea to have gas appliances checked each year by someone trained to detect poison gas leaks and install a carbon monoxide detector in your home…so the alarm goes off in time to keep your family safe.