Fire Prevention Focus: Changing Seasons Changing Risks

By John Voket, RISMedia Consumer Columnist

Every October, Fire Prevention Month, I try to present some practical information to help protect individuals from, and in the event of fire. So in this third of a series of segments in October, we’ll take a look at the change in home fire risks as we move into late fall and winter.

The Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. recently issued a Fire Prevention Month release reminding homeowners that in winter, heating overtakes cooking as the main cause of house fires. And primary danger is space heaters, especially electric ones according to PIACT President Timothy G. Russell.

To help prevent fires from supplemental heating devices, the PIACT offers these tips:

Never leave a space heater on when you are not in the room.

Keep fixed and portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.

Do not go to sleep with it on - use it to warm the bedroom, but shut it off before you climb into bed.

If you do have a fireplace, have the chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year.

Make sure fireplaces are kept clean and covered to keep the sparks from jumping out.

Perhaps the most important Fire Protection Month advice is: make a plan to “get out, and stay out” advises PIACT.

“Practice fire drills at home,” suggests Russell. “The place for a safe family meeting spot to go should be decided on now and practiced so everyone will know what to do in the event of an actual fire in the home.”

These drills involving your own home are necessary in making a lasting impression that make the difference in the event of a real emergency. Fires are frightening and can cause panic.

By rehearsing different scenarios, your family is less likely to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do. Test your plan, and occasionally have a drill in the middle of the night.