Avoiding Autumn Fire Dangers

September 22, 2011

Autumn is notable for its bright colors, cooler temperatures and warmer clothing. But the season also presents some potential threats, including fire hazards. Some homeowners in Michigan and Ohio may be living with dangerous conditions that could lead to a house fire right now. Even worse, they may not even know it.

Homeowners can reduce the risk of these threats by evaluating some key areas. Start with your smoke alarms to ensure they are functioning properly. Carbon monoxide detectors are another valuable purchase. They detect a deadly build-up of the odorless gas, which can lead to immediate health effects as well as fire.

While you’re thinking “up”, consider another danger area: light fixtures. Faulty wiring and other problems can lead to a fire, if not addressed. One warning sign is an excessive amount of heat around the fixture.

Protecting yourself and your family also involves carefully cleaning the lint trap in your dryer. With an increase in laundry loads and a busier schedule, this area may get overlooked more often. A dryer fire can lead to a much larger disaster, especially if it breaks out when no one is home.

Examining all major appliances is another helpful part of this annual home review. While extending the life of an old appliance is financially wise, continuing to use an appliance, such as a water heater, that has been malfunctioning or shows signs of electrical damage is more risk than it’s worth. If you you think cannot afford a replacement, consider the expense caused by a house fire started by that problem appliance.

Vents are another important area to focus on. Venting for dryers, water heaters and furnaces are appealing places for animals to build nests. While they are dark and secure, animals may also be drawn to this type of shelter to escape the cooler weather of the season. Unfortunately the nests block the flow of hot air and other substances through the vents, and the dry materials in the nests could ignite.

Before using your furnace for the first time, it’s ideal to have it professionally serviced to ensure it’s functioning safely and properly. Uncleaned furnace filters can be a fire hazard. Another heating source, the chimney, should also be cleaned before first-time use this season. A professional chimney sweep can clean from top to bottom, ensuring no blockage along the way that could later ignite. Also, purchasing a chimney cap can keep animals an debris out. As an added safety measure, many Michigan homeowners have switched from wood-burning fireplaces to gas log systems.

As always, be sure to hire only licensed and reputable contractors for your fire prevention work. You’ll save yourself problems later, and have peace of mind knowing your family is safer at home. That’s a good feeling, especially when winter arrives and you’re spending a whole lot more time in the house.

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