Fire safety may not be a popular topic among Realtors selling houses, it’s kinda scary and a downer. But I sell homes and this post felt important. As a firefighter turned Realtor, I have both expertise and emotion on the topic. I hope you find it valuable.
It snowed in the mountains this weekend, and down in the valley, I officially dubbed it, “Tea and Sweater Day” because my stepdaughter and I had been looking forward to the first day we could justify bundling up in fuzzy sweaters with a hot cup of chai.
Our furnace happened to be ready for the cool morning as well. Affordable Heating and Air (shameless plug, they did a great job for us) had just finished replacing it after its ancient predecessor was destroyed in the Sugar House Flood of 2017 – an event quickly overshadowed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and rightfully so.
We were excited to make sure it worked and fired it up right away. All went well and we only ran it long enough to know it worked great. But it reminded me that fall was always a busy time when I worked as a firefighter because people would get cold for the first time and turn on unsafe heaters.
When the cold winds of winter hit you’ll reach for the thermostat. Is your home safe? Do a safety check up now before temperatures drop.
6 Fire Safety Tips for Fall
1) CO and Smoke Detectors – If you haven’t yet, make sure your home has the recommended number and placement of both smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. I include CO detectors because this is a hazard directly tied to the increased use furnaces during cold months. Replace batteries with fresh (you can use them elsewhere until they die) and test each device.
2) Fire Extinguishers – Make sure there is one in the kitchen at minimum and I suggest one on each floor. Check that the unit is in date and the pressure gauge is in the green.
3) Have a Plan and a Means – Have a fire escape plan and make sure there is a means of egress (escape) from every bedroom. Check that windows and doors are not blocked, jammed, or painted shut. If you need to add a ladder, now is the time. Review with the entire family what to do in case of a fire and choose a meeting place. Children will automatically go toward their parents or the nearest door unless they are taught another route. If you are unsure about how to teach your children the basics of fire safety, please visit this page: firefacts.org
4) Furnace Inspection and Service – The best way to stay safe, and efficiently heat your home, is to maintain your furnace. Change the filter and have a preventative inspection and service now to avoid competing with the early-winter repair rush.
5) Check the Fireplace – If you use a fireplace, have it inspected annually by a chimney sweep. Things to watch for are flue blockages or creosote deposits nearing 1/8 inch thick. Also keep an eye on the structure of the chimney for loose or broken joints and make sure the cap is in place (birds love chimneys). Lastly make sure the damper is functioning.
6) Survey the Space Heater – Check to make sure your space heater has basic safety features such as an automatic shut-off if tipped over, an overheat shut-off switch, and a label from a recognized testing laboratory such as UL, ETL, or CSA. Also check the power cord for damage. If it’s not up to standard, I suggest saving for a replacement before it’s needed. You may even find a safe one at Good Will. When using the heater, be sure to keep it lever and at least three feet from anything flammable.
As you may notice, fire safety is a passionate topic for me. I’ve seen it and carbon monoxide tear apart families and destroy homes. I care about all of you and would rather your winters be full of sweaters and tea. A little prevention now could save more than you could know later. I hope you will set aside a day in the next month to act on these tips.