Heating and holiday decorations can inadvertently increase your risk of a home fire. Our winter fire safety tips can help keep your loved ones safe.
As people move indoors during the cold winter months, residential fires become more common, peaking between December and March. Unsurprisingly, the leading cause of home fires is heating equipment.
Here are some winter fire safety tips to help keep your home safe and toasty warm, no matter how you choose to heat it. As an added bonus, we provided some lesser-known fire prevention advice for when you break out the holiday decorations and entertain a house full of guests.
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from your heating equipment, including a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Maintain a three-foot buffer between children and any open fires or space heaters.
- Have your chimneys and heating equipment cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified HVAC professional
- Turn off portable heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Only plug one heating appliance into an electrical outlet at
Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
- Build your fire using only seasoned and dried wood. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire, as it can burn out of control. This is an important winter fire safety tip!
- Burning excess wood can lead to tar and creosote build-up in your chimney or stovepipes, causing a fire hazard.
- Recycle gift wrap, boxes and other packing material. Never burn it, as wrapping paper ignites suddenly, burns intensely and can cause a flash fire.
- Place a screen in front of the fireplace to protect from flying sparks.
- Leave your fireplace or wood stove damper open until the fire goes out and the ashes have cooled enough to touch.
- Regularly clean the ashes. Store cooled ashes in a covered metal container outside at least 3 metres from your home or other flammable material.
- If you decide to buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labelled as “fire resistant”. This means the tree will resist burning and extinguish quickly.
- If you decide to buy a live tree, look for these things to ensure freshness:
- The tree is green and loses few needles when tapped against the ground
- Needles are difficult to pull off the branch, and when bent, do not break.
- The trunk butt is sticky with resin.
- Keep your live tree well-watered because indoor air dries trees out quickly. Don’t place your tree near fireplaces or radiators.
Lights and Electrical
- Always use CSA-approved lights for both indoor and outdoor use. Check each set of lights annually for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Dispose of any damaged lights.
- Only connect three standard string lights to a single extension cord.
- Use insulated staples or hooks to hold string lights in place, not nails or tacks.
We hope you found these winter fire safety tips useful!
Life is unpredictable, despite our best efforts. If an accident does happen and your home is damaged by smoke and fire, don’t hesitate to contact us.
House fires are devastating, and restoring your house may seem daunting. Follow our guide on what to do after a house fire.
After the trauma of a house fire, thinking about next steps can be overwhelming. Still, once the fire department leaves, it’s important to know what to do. Here are some guidelines to help your family safely move on after a house fire:
File your insurance claim immediately
The first thing you should be doing after a house fire is calling your insurance company. Your insurance agent will be able to guide you through the restoration process. Make sure you ask about your insurance deductible. Your agent can also give you tips on securing your home and may recommend trusted restoration companies.
At this point, you’ll also have to document any personal items lost in the fire, along with an estimated dollar value for each item.
Make sure to ask your insurance agent if restoration costs are covered by your insurance policy, especially after you get a written quote from your chosen restoration company.
Make sure your house is safe to enter and secured when you leave
Depending on the amount of damage done, you may not be staying at your house after a fire, but you will have to take steps to ensure your safety when you enter and exit your home. Always speak to the fire department and other local officials before returning, even if you’re only staying on-site for a short time.
Some common safety concerns after a house fire include structural damage, falling debris and electrical safety issues. If the fire department has activated any emergency shutoffs for any of your utilities – water, electricity, or gas – consult them before turning any services back on.
In terms of health issues, keep in mind that every fire creates particles of incomplete combustion (PICs), which can be carcinogenic. These are microscopic and easy to breathe in, meaning you should avoid touching any fire-damaged items if you’re not wearing respiratory protection.
When leaving, ensure your property is as secure as possible. Looters are always a concern, so it’s a good idea to let your local police know that your property isn’t occupied.
Hire a disaster restoration company you trust
After a house fire, it’s essential to find a professional, licensed disaster restoration company as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the worse the fire and smoke damage will get. Post-fire, it takes only minutes for plastic and metal surfaces to permanently stain, and mere hours for metals to tarnish, grout to stain and for fibreglass and furniture to turn yellow. Flooring, fabrics and wood furniture will become seriously damaged within days after a fire.
Water damage can lead to mould and bacteria.
Hiring a compassionate company to guide you through this difficult time is crucial. Restoration companies with experience in fire and smoke remediation services should:
- respond quickly
- provide a written, detailed estimate before starting work
- talk you through the process before any work is done
- avoid cross-contamination
- dispose of waste properly
- provide odour removal services
- offer water damage and mould remediation services
Touch With Care understands how devastating a house fire can be, and is proud to help families restore their homes.
When you experience a flood, an urgent response will limit damage to your home or business. Touch With Care’s team of highly experienced restoration specialists are prepared to act quickly across Toronto and Mississauga. We respond within the hour to limit the possibility of water damage, electrical dangers, the growth of mould and bacteria, and structural harm to your home or business. Contact us when disaster strikes.
After a kitchen fire is contained and everyone is safe, use these tips to start your fire restoration process.
A lot takes place in the kitchen, more than any other place in any home. It is where we prepare and cook meals, congregate with family and friends, and sometimes work from to pay bills. Even a small kitchen fire, therefore, can cause damage and interrupt your daily routine.
While kitchen fires are sometimes unavoidable, the key thing to do in the event it happens is to keep yourself and everyone else safe before thinking about how to restore the kitchen.
After the fire is contained and you’re thinking about next steps, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Smoke damage is likely to spread even after a fire ceases. It is advisable to contact fire restoration professionals or the fire department to help initiate the restoration process, even for what might seem like insignificant kitchen fires. These professionals will help you identify damages in concealed areas, such as the electrical system, gas networks, and air conditioning systems.
Stay away from the kitchen during the process to avoid allergies or respiratory complications from smoke by-products. Once you have the go-ahead to access the kitchen, wear protective clothing to avoid injuries.
Get protective equipment
You don’t want to risk health complications and maybe long-term issues from soot, smoke, and other corrosive products. Gather the right equipment and clothing, including masks, pants, boots, and long-sleeved tops, before entering the kitchen to begin the restoration process to guarantee safety.
Assess the damage
Ensure you take pictures of the damage before moving or cleaning the affected things. Record all the details and create an inventory of everything that has been damaged to help with your insurance claim. Contact your insurance company to send an agent to assess the damage and cost of all the necessary repairs.
It is advisable not to clean or make any repairs until the agent from the insurance company is done assessing the damage to make a claim and gives you the green light to move forward.
Proceed with the restoration process
Engage professionals to handle the fire restoration process since they have the expertise and training using tools and processes to restore your kitchen in the best, quickest, safest, and most effective way. But you can endeavour to help with the restoration process by protecting yourself and others and prevent further damage.
Start cleaning your kitchen and proceed with the fire restoration with these tips:
- Wear protective equipment
- Change the air filters
- Avoid consuming contaminated foods or drinks
- Confirm that the HVAC is fully functional, then turn on the ceiling fan and air conditioning
- Open all windows to let smoke and smell out and for better air circulation.
- Additional fans can help you remove strong smells faster
- Remove items you can salvage first
- Do away with unsalvageable items
- Remove kitchen cabinets for easy access to interior spaces
- Wipe down metallic surfaces and steel appliances to prevent rusting, and
- Clean painted and plastic surfaces using some soap-free agent.
Kitchen fire restoration processes depend on the cause and the extent of the fire. Smoke can spread throughout your home, damaging fabrics and other items. It might also be necessary to deal with water damages and moulds if you used water to quench the fire.
Kitchen fires can be devastating, especially without the right help with the restoration process. Luckily, professionals are there to restore your kitchen to its former state or even a better one. Contact our Toronto office for the best and affordable fire restoration services.