Housing Risks During the Winter Months

As the weather changes and the temperature in the northeastern coastal areas turn cold, more people move indoors to stay warm. This means your heating system will be run more often and many people turn their heat way up to keep warm. This is a natural reaction to the blustery outside air, but there are a few precautions you should take no matter what type of heat system your home has. Below are five tips to staying safe when the weather turns cold this winter, and remember this rule: stay warm but stay safe!

Heating System Safety

When running your heating system, it’s not a good idea to run it on high for too long. Always select the “auto” option rather than the “fan” to get the evenest heating and turn it to around 68 degrees when you leave the house. Check pilot lights to make sure they are all working. If your heat does not start up for the first time this winter, you may want to check the pilot light. Sometimes the pilot light can go out over the summer or early fall months when it is not in use, or strong wind can blow it out. There is a specific technique you should follow for lighting your pilot light with most electric furnace systems. There are various videos on this procedure, but the basic process is the same. It’s also a good idea to vacuum out your furnace once in a while to keep dust and debris from collecting around it.

Fireplace Safety

Many people enjoy starting up their fireplaces during the winter months, especially in the eastern locations where it is typically colder. Fireplaces are a wonderful asset to a home, and they create a warm and inviting atmosphere. But you should take care to make sure the flue is clean as this is the cause of many house fires, so on the east coast ensure you have adequate home insurance coverage in Ontario and other parts of Canada, where the winter wind blows colder than in other locations.

Radiators and Standalone Heaters

One of the greatest dangers when heating your home inside is the use of standalone electric heaters and radiator units. These units can overheat quickly and, when left alone, they can catch fire. The key to avoiding this disaster is to make sure there are no blankets, clothing items, or flammable materials within at least 10 feet or more of the unit. Also, never keep these standalone units burning by themselves or run off and leave them running when you leave the house.

Watch Christmas Trees

Christmas is near and it is a time many people enjoy with the introduction of a real tree. The disadvantage to real trees is that they can catch fire from the Christmas lights. This is especially true if you use the bare larger light bulbs that increase in heat as they are used. They can overheat if they are next to a tree branch and catch your tree and house on fire. Don’t risk this. Use smaller more contained lights and keep your real tree moist by watering it daily. This may reduce your chance of fire from a Christmas tree.

Burning Leaves: A Hazard Waiting to Happen

In addition to the potential for fires in your home due to heating units or Christmas trees, you should be careful when burning leaves near your home as well. Never burn your leaves on a windy day and watch for “no burn warnings” in your area.

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