Winter home fire prevention and safety tips

This time of year, many Boston area residents dig out the space heaters or fire up the wood stoves to keep their homes warm. It is important that people are aware that such devices cause a number of fires in Massachusetts every winter. The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal is holding a “Keep Warm, Keep Safe” campaign in order to educate people about certain winter fire risks.

Several serious fires have already taken place this winter in the Boston area, making the message of the campaign very important this year.

There are several steps that Boston residents can take to help protect their homes from fires.

  1. Have your heating system cleaned. If you are doing any repairs or upgrades, make sure this work is done by reputable professionals.
  2. Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are operating properly.
  3. Any chimneys that are in use need to have liners free of cracks, and they also need to be free of creosote.
  4. Be careful when disposing ashes from wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Improper ash disposal causes thousands of fires every year. Ashes can remain hot for days – they often seem cold even when a hot coal is hidden inside. Ashes should not be disposed of in paper or plastic containers.
  5. If you have a real holiday tree in your home, make sure it is watered and does not become very dry. Dry trees should be removed. Keep the tree away from heat sources, including fireplaces and stoves. Do not block egress windows with the tree.

Source: Boston Herald, “Marshal warns of fire risks,” O’Ryan Johnson, Dec. 1, 2013