*Have your chimney serviced every year if you have a fireplace or a wood-burning stove. Over the course of a winter, soot and dust can accumulate, and if left unchecked, could cause a fire. The best time to do this is in the fall, before you anticipate needing to use the chimney. This way, it will be freshly cleaned, and any dead leaves can be cleared out of the way.
*Keep fire extinguishers handy. Keep one in the kitchen, one near your fireplace or wood stove, and one at the door leading to the basement or utility area where your furnace is located.
*Keep the areas around radiators, space heaters, and fireplaces clear of clutter that could ignite. Check these areas regularly, particularly in playrooms and children’s bedrooms, where stray toys, clothing, or paper could get shoved behind or underneath a heating source.
*Leave the house and call 911 or the gas company if you smell gas. This applies any time of year, if you have a gas-burning furnace, hot water heater, stove or clothes-dryer. Don’t even pick up the phone to make the call if you smell the characteristic odor of a gas leak, as static electricity can cause a spark which can cause a fire. Gather up the family and go to a neighbor’s house immediately.
*Never heat your home with an appliance that is not meant to do so. Do not turn on the oven if you are not baking something. To ignore this advice could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, particularly if you have a gas stove.
*Teach your kids basic fire safety. Have a designated place to meet in case of a fire, and determine who is responsible for getting young children out of the house. Install fire ladders in upstairs windows of children who are old enough to use them, and practice using them so they will know what to do.
By keeping in mind these basic fire and carbon monoxide safety tips, you can help your kids stay safe during the peak of the heating season, as well as throughout the year.