Once the weather loses its last bit of summer sun, chances are you’ll be supplementing your thermostat with cozy nights around a fire. Whether it’s an outdoor fire pit, your wood burning fireplace or simply an abundance of candles, safety needs to be top of mind. Here a few things to consider:
1. Know what you'll do if the worst happens: You likely won't be able to predict a house fire, but knowing what to do if it happens can limit the damage to lives and property. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to stay low to avoid smoke inhalation and how they'll escape any room in the house. A meeting spot outside the home should be identified long before you need it. It's one good way to check if everyone has left the premises safely. And make sure kids know that nothing is worth going back into the house for. These are only a few parts of a proper fire plan. Check in with your local fire department for others.
2. Have the tools on hand to keep a fire in your fireplace in check: Fire extinguishers and/or buckets of water or sand (outside) should be close on hand just in case. Even if you aren't lighting small fires such as in your fireplace, a fire extinguisher is an important item to have in your home.
3. Keep fires contained: A firepit next to your stockpile of wood might seem convenient but it's trouble waiting to happen. And candles located near drapes, bedding or children is a bad idea too. Make sure you take a moment to look around the surrounding area before you light up. Similarly, any flammable fire starters you store should be a safe distance away from any fire. Or get the effects of real flame by using battery-powered "candles".
4. Chimneys need to be maintained. The smells and sounds of wood crackling in a fireplace conjures up a cozy time, but a poorly maintained chimney or wood-burning fireplace can also be a fire hazard. Put a note in your calendar and have it remind you annually to keep things well tuned by a professional.
Understand your home insurance policy when it comes to fires: Make sure you understand what is and isn't covered under your home insurance policy in the case of fire. And make a habit of specifically adding significantly valuable items once a year.
Call or email your provider to be sure any new valuables are covered.