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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Fire Prevention 24-7 – Fall fire safety


The months just seem to be flying by.

The leaves have begun turning from green to orange, yellow and red, the weather is turning cooler, and you’ve probably started preparing for the cold season ahead. You’re excited for Halloween and can’t wait to start decorating your home.

But have you thought about the fire safety risks that arise during the fall? Winterizing a home is an important step this time of year. Clearing water from sprinkler systems, getting the furnace serviced, cleaning gutters, and raking leaves, help to keep a home running through the winter months. Many people don’t realize that homes are at a greater risk of fire in the winter months. Fall fire safety tips can help home owners prepare their home and protect their families.

Let’s start with our smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. I am sure you are probably tired of hearing about this, but did you know that both battery operated AND hard-wired alarms need to be tested? How often? The answer is monthly. Take a broom handle (so you aren’t climbing on a ladder) and push the button, hold it in and wait to hear a beep. If they are hard-wired you should start hearing them all go off. But you need to do this with every alarm, including your carbon monoxide.

You also want to fully check and service your heating devices before cranking up the heat. Have your furnace inspected, cleaned, and serviced, and be sure to replace your furnace filter.

If you’ve got a wood burning fireplace, hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney before you start using it. Burning wood or engineered wood alternatives produce creosote. Creosote is a deposit from smoke that can build up in a chimney. If it gets too thick, it can start on fire and destroy the house. In addition, cracks in your flue can allow poisonous carbon monoxide to seep into your home. And finally, a thorough inspection will remove any animals that may have built a home in your chimney during the summer. We also suggest the use of fireplace screens to keep sparks from floating out, while a fire is burning.

Fall is a popular time for using candles for both decoration and ambiance. However, if candles are left unattended or placed too close to flammable materials, they can easily start a fire.

Don’t store flammable liquids, including any unused fuel in a gas can, inside your home or in an attached garage. Store this material away from your home and drain excess fuel out of the container before storing it to prevent accidental fires from escaping fuel vapors. It’s also a great idea to remove fuel from lawn mowers before you store them for the winter. Be sure to drop off your waste fuels at the Naperville Household Hazardous Waste facility. Information for the facility can be found on the City of Naperville website.

Following these fire prevention tips will help you reduce the likelihood that your family will experience a fire. It’s a good idea to review these tips with your family every fall, and while you’re at it, practice a fire drill.

Stay safe Naperville!

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Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin is the Naperville Fire Department Community Education Specialist. Contact her via email at mclaughlins@naperville.il.us.