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Winter Fire Prevention & Safety Tips

Prevent fires, protect residents and safeguard your properties this winter with fire prevention and safety tips from The Home Depot Pro. Heating is a leading cause of residential fires. Fortunately, almost all heating-related fires are preventable. Follow our fire safety tips, as well as these winterization and fire prevention tips, to protect your property and its residents.

inspect furnace
Winterize Furnaces
  • Inspect furnaces, including controls and emergency shut-offs, annually to ensure they’re in good working condition. 
  • Monitor walls and ceilings near each furnace and along the chimney line. Apply additional pipe insulation if the wall is hot.
  • Check flue pipes and pipe seams for leaks and proper support. There shouldn’t be any holes, cracks or soot around the seams.
  • Look for cracks and loose bricks around chimneys and repair them as needed. 
  • Examine flue openings. Unused flue openings must be sealed with solid masonry.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from heating systems.
  • Always choose a qualified specialist for furnace repairs. Do not attempt to repair furnaces yourself.
inspect fireplace
Winterize Fireplaces

  • Inspect fireplaces and chimneys annually for proper installation, soundness and soot buildup.
  • Clean chimneys with proper fireplace cleaners when 1/8” of soot or creosote buildup is visible.
  • Clean any fireplace that has not been used for an extended time.
  • Clean the chimney if any glaze is visible. 
  • Make sure there are glass or metal fireplace screens for safer use.
tenant fireplace
Fireplace Advice for Your Tenant

  • Use the glass or metal fireplace screen to prevent embers and sparks from jumping out or unwanted materials from going in.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the fireplace and mantel.
    Limit the use of paper to build fires. Overbuilding the fire can ignite built-up soot and creosote.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Do not close fireplace dampers while there are hot ashes. A closed damper reheats fires and forces toxic carbon monoxide into the home.
  • Follow directions if synthetic logs are used. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire, and never use more than one log at a time.
  • Extinguish any fire before you go to sleep.
inspect heaters
Winterize Kerosene Heaters

  • Check if kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Inspect heaters and exhausts for carbon buildup.
  • Make sure there is an emergency shut-off in the event the heater is tipped over.
tenant heaters
Kerosene Heater Advice for Your Tenants

  • Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper ventilation. 
  • Burning fuel, including kerosene, can produce deadly fumes.
  • Check heaters for recommended fuel types and only use those fuels.
  • Keep young children away from space heaters.
  • Fill kerosene heaters to the correct level, avoid overfilling and always refill containers outside of the home.
  • Never fill heaters while they are operating or hot. 
  • Store kerosene and other flammable liquids in approved metal containers in well-ventilated storage areas outside of the home.
smoke alarm
Helpful Heating & Winter Fire Safety Tips for Tenants

  • Check smoke alarms and CO detectors and replace batteries or the detector as needed.
  • Discard hot ashes in a metal container outside and well away from the building.
  • Never use ranges or ovens as supplemental heating devices.
  • Only use extension cords that have the correct rating. A good way to ensure this is by using an extension cord that is the same size or larger than the appliance’s electrical cord.
  • Be careful not to overload circuits.
  • Avoid using electric heaters in bathrooms and other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • Never try to thaw frozen pipes with a torch or an open flame. Use hot water or a hand-held dryer instead.
  • Make and practice a fire escape plan. Keep a residential escape ladder if needed.

Commit to Winterization & Fire Prevention

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s most recent reports, there were approximately 95,000 apartment fires and 388,000 residential structure fires reported in the US in 2015. These fires resulted in more than $8 billion in damage, 14,000 injuries and 3,000 deaths. Pledge yourself, your contractors and your facility to thorough winterization and better fire safety this and every winter. Learn the details of fire legislation in your area and work to exceed those standards. Work to help your local firefighters by keeping nearby fire hydrants clear of snow. Proper home and apartment winterization is the best way to protect your investments, your property and your residents.