As the weather gets a little cooler, many of us will start using alternative heat sources in our homes.
As an Insurance Agent, I’ve seen many cases of house fires over the years, many coming from the fireplace, wood stoves, and space heaters.
Each fire is unique, but some have common causes. I’d like to share a couple of my own experiences so you can learn how to better protect yourself and your family.
In one situation, the homeowner knew that fireplace ashes can act as insulation and keep embers hot for 7-10 days. He placed them in a metal can on the back deck to cool. Heat transferred through the metal and ignited his deck. You can imagine what happened.
In the case of another homeowner who was using a vacuum to clean up around a wood stove, she unknowingly sucked an ember into the vacuum, which was then put away in an attic stairwell. A smoke detector later alerted the homeowner that the stairwell and the top of her home were engulfed in flames.
In one more situation, a customer’s teenage daughter was having friends over for a sleepover in their basement. Since it was very cool downstairs, the mother set up a space heater in the corner of the room. The girls woke up during the night on a deflating, burning/melting air mattress. The heater had been left too close and on too high a setting.
The most common source of easily preventable fire accidents comes from wood-burning devices, like the stove and fireplace mentioned above.
If you use ANY wood-burning devices to keep warm this winter, keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors.
- If you use a metal container to transfer ashes, put some water in it before the ashes and then place the container outside away from combustibles.
- If you are dumping ashes on the ground, saturate the ash pile with water before walking away from it.
Make sure that you are keeping your and your family’s safety top priority this winter and be extremely diligent when it comes to heat sources.