How to Stay Safe While Staying Warm

Let’s face it—winter can get pretty chilly in Alberta. We all have a number of ways to beat the cold, but are they always safe? While you’re staying warm, here are a few fire safety and prevention tips to get you through the season.

Don’t Leave Space Heaters Unattended

Using a CSA-approved space heater is a great and convenient way to get that extra warmth in the house or at the office. If used improperly though, space heaters can be a huge fire hazard. Make sure your space heater has adequate safety features and that you keep it away from combustibles and high traffic areas. It’s important to keep an eye on space heaters when they’re on and remember to turn them off when leaving the room or going to bed.

Deck the Halls

If you decorate for the holidays, choose flame resistant decorations. Consider upgrading your decorative lights to LED, which don’t give off heat like conventional bulbs. Replace any strings or lights that have frayed cords or loose bulb connections and make sure not to overload circuits—three strands of lights per outlet is the most you should connect.

Beware of Carbon Monoxide

It’s odourless, colourless, and tasteless, so we really don’t have any warning against potential deadly CO poisoning. Having your furnace regularly serviced, practising fireplace safety, and installing carbon monoxide alarms (and testing them regularly) will help prevent your family against this invisible gas. Make sure you test your fire alarms regularly, too.

Fireplace Checklist

Cozying up by a wood-burning fireplace is a favourite way for many people to ward off the winter chill. Before lighting your first fire of the season, make sure your home is fire ready. If you’re uncomfortable with any of these tips, you can always hire a professional.

  • Check your chimney. Chimneys can become homes to birds and squirrels during the summer months, and their nests can trap gases and prevent proper ventilation. Look for debris or creosote deposits—a flammable substance that accumulates on the walls of the fireplace and chimney.
  • Clear the area around the hearth. Remove any decorations and debris, and make sure large furniture items are a safe distance from the flames.
  • Only use dry wood to start a fire. Never use a flammable substance, like gasoline or starter fluid. Burning wet wood accelerates the buildup of creosote.
  • Make sure there’s a constant supply of fresh air. If your fireplace doesn’t have its own air intake, open a nearby window. Keep the fresh air coming the entire time the fire is burning. It’s safe to close the air supply only when the fire is completely out.
  • Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Keep your roof clean of debris, cover the chimney with a spark arrestor—a metal guard you can buy at most hardware or home improvement stores—and remove any overhanging branches hear the chimney.

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