Winter is peak house fire season. Here are tips to safely enjoy the season
Lights, candles and decorations all brighten up the holiday season. So does gathering around the fireplace. But they all also increase the risk of house fires. Nationwide the majority of house fires occur between December and February, according to Westport Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan.
“First and foremost, you should keep anything that's combustible, anything that could catch on fire, at least 3 feet away from any heat source—whether that be a heater or your fireplace or anything like that,” Marsan said.
If that heat source is a space heater, Marsan stressed making sure it’s plugged directly into a wall outlet and not an extension cord or power strip. Before cozying up around the fireplace, get your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year, he said.
News 12 met up with a crew from Top Notch Chimney Sweep, who was on the job in Fairfield.
“If you use a chimney regularly, you definitely want to have it cleaned regularly. If you don't, the residue—it’s called creosote—that builds up in there is very flammable, and that's how chimney fires start,” explained service manager Kevin Steeneck. “A lot of people out there think, you know, they can clean the chimney themselves. They think they're doing a good job by brushing it up from the bottom. But even if you do a good job, it's important to have someone look at it who really knows what they're talking about and what they're looking at.”
Marsan agreed, saying the inspection that comes with a professional cleaning is crucial. He also said there’s another thing to be mindful of with fireplace safety.
“It's disposal of your ashes inside your fireplace. We recommend they go into a metal container and store those at least 10 feet away from your house,” Marsan told News 12, adding that Westport fire crews recently responded to a fire started by improper disposal. “It started on the outside of the house and was making its way inside the house before our firefighters got there and were able to stop it."
The chief also wanted to remind people about Christmas trees and decorations.
“If you do have a tree and it's live, make sure it remains watered. Make sure you turn off all the pretty lights before you go to bed at night,” Marsan said. “Enjoy the holiday season but please do so safely.”