As the weather gets cooler, many homeowners start getting their homes ready for winter. Each year, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) responds to house fires that cause injuries and significant damage to homes and property. These fires are most always preventable.
“When we prepare our homes for winter, what seems like a mundane task can lead to an accidental house fire if we’re not careful, and that can be devastating,” said Mark Reshaur, WFPS Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention & Public Education.
Fires that start in yard waste or bulky waste can rapidly spread, which can lead to a house fire, threatening your home and your family’s safety.
“When you’re doing yard work, remember to keep garbage, yard waste, or bulky waste, such as old furniture, far away from your home, garage, and fence.”
As outdoor temperatures cool, it’s a good time to have your furnace serviced by a qualified technician before turning it on for the season, said Reshaur. On top of performing routine maintenance on your furnace, a qualified technician can tell you if your furnace poses a carbon monoxide (CO) risk.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colourless, tasteless gas that can be deadly. It’s important that your home is equipped with CO alarms to alert you if there’s an issue.
If you are using space heaters and electric heaters to warm an area, they should be used with caution and according to the product’s specifications. Keep flammable items like clothing, curtains, and paper away from heaters.
A space heater should never be left on while you’re sleeping or in another room.
When you prepare your vehicle for winter, it’s important think about how to prevent vehicle fires or carbon monoxide exposures.
“Check your extension cords and your vehicle’s block heater for signs of damage and replace any worn out equipment,” said Reshaur.
“Never plug in your vehicle inside a garage.”
You should also never start your vehicle or use a barbecue inside a garage or other enclosed space, even if the door is open. This can lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide.
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds or you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, get out, stay out, and call 911.
Remember to have a home escape plan and practice is often with all members of your household.
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