Safety Tips to Prevent Fire Damage This Fall

fire damage restorationMany people love this time of year, transitioning from warm summer days to cool fall nights – football season, pumpkin picking and cozying up to a warm fire.  September is also National Preparedness Month and it is the time when several fire safety issues should be addressed in order to prevent fire damage to your home or business in the upcoming months.

Think ahead to prevent fire damage when burning wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

The chimney isn’t just a place to enjoy a warm fire, but almost all heating appliances, whether they burn gas, wood or coal, rely on the chimney to safely carry toxic carbon monoxide out of the house.  Proper cleaning of the chimney can also help to prevent carbon monoxide gases from entering the home in the first place.
  • Have your chimney and flue cleaned by a professional. A dirty chimney or damaged flue can cause smoke damage.
  • Clean your woodstove and remove any clutter that has accumulated on or near the stove or fireplace
  • Be sure that your chimney, flue, bricks and mortar are all in good condition and that you don’t have more than one heating device in a single flue.

Test your smoke alarms and CO2 dectors.

Going along with chimney safety, you should also test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as well as replace any worn out batteries.  A good way to remember is to change your batteries when you "Fall Back," and turn your clocks back to Standard Time in the fall.

Make a fire safety plan.

In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Make sure that you have a fire safely plan in place with all family members, especially children, in case of emergency so that everybody can get out of your home quickly. It takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. A house can fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames in just a few minutes. Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

Check your dryer vent.

Fall is also a good time to check for build up in your dryer vent, while you still have access to the outside vent. This is an easy maintenance task, but one that often goes overlooked, and can be dangerous if left to build up for too long. People tend to clean out the lint traps on their dryers after every use or so, but don’t give much thought to the lint that can build up in your dryer vent or hose attached to your dryer. Follow these steps to check your dryer vent:
  • Loosen the vent clamp on the back of your dryer
  • Slide the vent off and reach in as far as you can in order to remove any lint and buildup.  You can also use a vacuum cleaner to help reach inside to remove additional buildup
  • Make sure to clean out the vent tubing as well
  • If you have a larger buildup, you may need to use a plumbing snake or wire brush to help remove the lint farther up the hose
  • Remove the vent on the outside of the house and repeat the above steps

Here are a few more things to consider when preparing your home or business for the fall months.

  • Clean out gutters from leaves or debris
  • Check your roof shingles to be sure they are in good condition for wind, ice and upcoming snow
  • Check windows for deteriorated sills and fill with putty to prevent water damage due to leaks
  • Take a look at the trees on your property and remove any limbs that would be in danger of falling on property or people during a large storm
Image: download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.  


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