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Homeowners Insurance

How to Heat Your Home Safely This Winter

October 17, 2022

Keeping your home and family warm is essential during the winter months. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Emergency crews responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires per year involving heating equipment from 2014 to 2018. Annually fires accounted for 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage, according to the NFPA.

Most home fires happen from December to February when families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes as temperatures drop. While space heaters and fireplaces are good sources of warmth, they can be extremely dangerous if misused. Even furnaces can pose a danger if not maintained.

Consider the following safety tips this winter for each type of heating source.

Heating Your Home Safely with a Space Heater

Space heaters can be very effective, but they can also be hazardous. Follow these safety tips if using them in your home:

  • Leave three feet of space on every side of the heater. Otherwise, anything that could potentially go up in flames will.
  • Avoid placing space heaters in high-traffic areas where they can be knocked over or burn someone or something.
  • Never leave pets or young children alone in a room with a space heater.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or sleep.
  • If you have an older model, consider buying a newer space heater with improved safety features—such as a burn guard and automatic shutoff if the heater gets too hot or tips over.

Heating Your Home Safely with a Fireplace

Nothing is as relaxing as sitting around a crackling fireplace. Keep these safety precautions in mind before you light your hearth.

  • Maintain your fireplace and chimney. Clean it regularly to remove creosote buildup. Also, make sure the liner isn’t cracked.
  • Keep fuel away from the fireplace.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from entering the room.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Test them to make sure they are working.

Heating Your Home Safely with a Furnace

Your central heating system is like any other appliance; it can degrade and break down as it ages. Deterioration can result in dangerous conditions. So make sure to have it professionally maintained.

  • Keep your furnace clean and replace the air filter so the motor doesn’t overheat.
  • Maintain the wiring. Faulty wiring can lead to overloads, causing shorts and fires.
  • Make sure the heat exchanger is in good condition. A small crack can put you at an increased risk for carbon monoxide poisoning and is a prevalent fire issue.
  • Keep motor bearings lubricated. They could seize and cause the motor to catch fire if they aren’t.
  • Ensure that fuel lines are leak free. Heating oil and natural gas are highly flammable. If lines leak, these substances can come into contact with heated components and catch fire.

Help Is a Call Away

We remind Hylant clients that if their insured home is ever damaged by fire and they need help submitting or resolving a claim, they can contact their Hylant service team for assistance. Our dedicated claim management team is here to help. Others with questions about homeowners insurance are invited to contact Hylant here.

Related Reading: Quick Tips: Winterize Your Home

The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.

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