December, January, and February, when the temperature is typically at its coldest, house fires are at a yearly high.  According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), these months contain half of all home heating fires for the year.

Keeping warm is a necessity during these frigid times, but make sure you do so with caution. Below is a list of helpful tips to keep you and your family warm and safe.

  • Watch furnace filters and vents throughout the winter to make sure they are clean.
  • Install and test carbon monoxide and fire alarms in your home once per month and keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
  • If you plan on using any type of space heater or heat-producing appliance, you should only have one plugged in and running at a time.
  • Always turn heaters off if you are leaving the room unattended and do not place anything flammable in front of the heater such as clothes, books, or electronics.
  • Before igniting your fireplace, check your chimney to see that it is clean. Once the fire is out and the ashes have cooled, store them in a tightly sealed metal container; keep the container outside and at least 10 feet from your home.

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Aside from furnace and heater fires, cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months as well.  Most often, fires begin when cooktops are left unattended while in use.  Also, pay attention to your clothing and other articles such as towels and oven mitts while cooking near an open flame.

If you smell gas or any kind of irregular smell coming from your furnace, space heater, oven, or any other heating devices, do not turn them on.  Call the fire department or a specialist to come and look at your appliance. You should also leave the premises; gas and carbon monoxide can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

Recovering compensation after a fire.

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It is a property owner’s responsibility to keep their premises and home safe for invitees at all times.  If you were injured in a fire due to a neglected premise or a defective heating device, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Berger and Green at 412-661-1400 for a free no-obligation consultation.

Source: Red Cross, “Home Fire Heating Safety Crucial during Cold Winter Months”

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