Rainy, damp winter can seem counter-intuitive when it comes to a likely time for home fires to occur but even Washington’s high humidity can’t prevent a poorly timed spark from igniting. Here are a few tips to help you keep your home and loved ones fire-safe.
Use proper extension cords and don’t overwhelm a single cord. Extension cords, especially those inexpensive, thin ones we get for $4.99 at the hardware store, are actually intended for temporary use only. If using an extension cord, be sure it is not running under rugs or past doorways. Plug major appliances directly into the wall, not with an extension cord. If you need more outlets to accommodate appliances or to eliminate the long-term use of an extension cord, hire an electrician to put in additional outlets in your home.
In the cold winter months, we often need a little boost of heat that an extra sweater and wooly socks can’t fix. If using space heaters, be sure to thoroughly check them for good condition before turning them on. Where you set your space heater is important too. Make sure there is a good amount of space – the recommended distance is 3 feet – between your heater and drapes, bedding, newspapers/magazines, or other fabrics and materials that could catch fire if they get too hot. Always turn your heater off before leaving the room or going to sleep. Feeling drowsy and think you might drift off? Set a timer on your heater for 10-15 minutes so that it wont accidentally be left on all night.
Dryer Lint Traps:
We may specialize in duct cleaning, but we also know how important it is to keep other appliances clean. One that is easy for anyone to maintain is your dryer’s lint trap. A leading cause of home fires, lint is an incredibly effective fire starter. If left to build up, it can be dangerous in a hot dryer.* Be sure to remove lint regularly from the trap to prevent build up. If you have kids who are just learning how to do their own laundry, teach them to clean the trap as well, starting an important habit early.
*Side Tip: Since that sheet of lint from the trap is a very effective fire starter, put some in a ziplock baggie to take on your next overnight camping trip. Lint is an easy and efficient way to get your campfire going, especially in the damp PNW. (Be sure to follow the campground/backcountry rules and start your campfire in the designated fire ring)
For more information, additional tips and fire safety worksheets to share with your kids, visit the National Fire Prevention Association’s website.