Public Safety

UC Public Safety shares winter fire safety tips

The winter season brings with it increased fire safety concerns, as electricity use increases and windows stay closed. Below are some tips from UC's Fire Safety Inspector Supervisor Rob Schrand to help you prevent fires this winter.

Space heaters

"When the weather turns cold, portable space heaters become a popular way to supplement heat in the home," Schrand said.

If you plan to purchase a space heater this winter, choose one that has been tested and certified by an independent laboratory and that will automatically shut off if the heater tips over.

While you are using a space heater, plug it into the wall outlet, rather than using an extension cord or multi-plug adaptor. Place it at least three feet away from anything that can burn and turn it off and unplug it before you leave the room.

Carbon Monoxide

"With the increased use of gas fueled appliances in the cold winter months there is an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning," Schrand said.

To insure your home is safe from carbon monoxide, install CO detectors in your home, or, if you already have CO detectors in your home, replace any that are older than 10 years. In addition, you should not run or warm a car in your garage.

Schrand also recommends having fueled fire appliances checked and serviced annually to make sure they are in proper working order.

Once it starts to snow, make sure to remove snow from all natural gas furnaces and dryer venting piping to ensure they are ventilating properly.

Christmas trees

When choosing a tree, Schrand recommends picking one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when the tree is touched.

Once the tree is in your home, place it at least three feet away from any heat source and water it daily so your tree does not go dry. Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and do not leave your tree lights on when you are not home or when you are asleep.

You should also get rid of any holiday trees soon after Christmas or when the tree is dry, according to Schrand.

Other safety tips

A few additional suggestions to prevent fires this winter are listed below:

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets in your home.
  • Install photo electric smoke detectors in every bedroom and on every floor of your home.
  • Have your furnace checked and serviced to ensure it works properly.
  • Know two ways out of your home and establish a family or roommate meeting place in case of emergency, or read your residence hall's emergency plan.
  • Inspect and dispose of non-working electrical holiday decorations.
  • If you live on the second or third floor, consider purchasing an escape ladder.