One cold January day, Mark Scott brought his teenagers into the backyard, struck a match to their old, dried Christmas tree, and watched as it was set ablaze within six seconds. (Please, don’t try this at home.)
“Every year you see Christmas tree fires,” said the Cabin John, Maryland-based owner of Mark IV Builders. Throughout the season, cut trees dry out and become easily combustible. What starts as a small fire can ravage a home in a matter of minutes.
“That’s why we never leave any type of heater anywhere near the tree,” he added, driving the point home for his teens. That includes a space heater, a lantern or even a lit candle. Keep your tree a safe distance from the fireplace, too.
Christmas tree fires are just one mishap that can occur when heating your home during winter. Keeping warm doesn’t have to be daunting, but it can be dangerous, especially if proper safety precautions aren’t taken before you open the fireplace flue or light the furnace fuse.
To stay safe, use these simple tips to get ready for winter, no matter what type of home heat source you use.
1. Schedule an annual check-up for your furnace.
To keep carbon monoxide (CO) gas from leaking into your home, make sure your furnace is exhausting properly, warns Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the Today’s Homeowner television and radio shows. CO can be fatal and, because it’s odorless, homeowners may not even know they have a problem until it’s too late.
Lipford notes that sometimes homeowners can “bump something loose” when moving stored items in or out of the attic, and roofers can inadvertently damage furnace exhaust vents. The moral? A CO leak can come from areas of the home many homeowners wouldn’t even think to consider.
Get your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a knowledgeable technician who can make sure it’s running as safely and efficiently as it should. Make sure the technician inspects the vent pipe—both where it’s connected to the furnace and where it protrudes through your roof. Read More