Winter Fire Safety
We avoid fire by instinct, but there is less space to run when flames break out inside a building! This is why governments have strict fire codes for buildings, and you can get huge fines for not following them. Fire safety is extremely important and you can’t afford to ignore the topic in any building, big or small.
As the holiday season approaches, we need extra precautions to ensure fire safety. There’s plenty of holiday lights around, and they can easily start a fire when installed incorrectly, especially if they’re low quality products. Space and water heaters are also used more as the weather gets colder, and these devices are very dangerous if they haven’t received maintenance in a long time.
Today we will give you some fire safety recommendations for the holiday season, which are useful for homes and businesses alike. Letting accidents happen is much more expensive than preventing them, and this is especially true when we’re talking about fire!
1) Inspect Your Heaters: Furnaces, Boilers & Hot Water Systems
When you need to keep an indoor space warm, burning gas or oil is often a cheaper option than using electricity. However, the use of fossil fuels for indoor heating comes with many risks:
- You have a constant flame and a fuel supply inside your property. To ensure fire safety, you need a professional design and installation, and then regular maintenance.
- Without adequate ventilation, dangerous combustion gases accumulate indoors. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous, since it becomes lethal at air concentrations of only around 1%. Carbon monoxide should not be confused with the less dangerous carbon dioxide, the gas we release normally while breathing.
If your heating systems will be used for long hours this winter, make sure they are properly inspected . The best recommendation is contacting a qualified HVAC repair and maintenance company that can easily find hidden issues. They will check the burners of all your heaters, repairing them if necessary, while cleaning any accumulated dusts. Regular maintenance makes boilers and furnaces more efficient, which means you save on energy bills during the winter.
Some governments make boiler and furnace inspections mandatory at regular intervals. If this is your case, there is even more reason to get your heating systems checked, especially if your building was closed due to COVID-19 last year.
Another option you can consider is purchasing heat pumps instead of fuel-based furnaces and boilers. A heat pump runs with electricity, but it only uses a fraction of the power needed by a resistance heater. This means you can keep your home or business warm, without the risk of having flames and fossil fuels indoors.
2) Don’t Overload Wiring and Breakers!
Technically speaking, holiday lights are a temporary electrical installation. However, many home and business owners don’t pay attention to their instructions, and the following are some common mistakes:
- Wiring too many light sets in a single chain.
- Connecting too many holiday lights to the same power outlet.
- Installing holiday lights in closed places, where they can’t dissipate heat properly.
As you connect more holiday lights to the same circuit, you have more current on the same wires. This can trip your circuit breakers, which is actually a good thing! The breaker is giving you a warning sign that you have too many lights plugged together.
However, there are also cases where the electric current is not high enough to trip breakers, but it melts insulation. This exposes live wires directly, and they can easily start a fire or cause a short circuit. Also, anyone who touches wires with melted insulation will suffer an electric shock.
LED holiday lights are recommended, since they consume around six times less power than incandescent lights. This means there is six times less current going through the wires, and the heating effect is drastically reduced. You can look for holiday lights with a CSA certification mark to ensure fire safety.
3) Practice Candle Safety
Candles look great with holiday decoration, but it’s easy to forget that they can start a fire in seconds. For this reason, candles should only be used in well-ventilated locations, and they should be kept away from any furniture or decoration that can catch fire.
Instead of candles with a real flame, you can use LED lights with flame-shaped bulbs! They don’t burn you if touched accidentally, they don’t release smoke and ash, and they will not ignite nearby objects. Just remember that LEDs use electricity, and you need to make sure they are properly wired. Otherwise, you’re just replacing one risk with another one.
Other Ways to Stay Safe
Here we discussed specific fire risks during the holiday season, but many hazards are always present. Make sure your smoke detectors, fire alarms and automatic sprinklers are in good condition since they protect buildings all year long. You should also make sure there are enough fire extinguishers at hand, and any water connections needed by firefighters should be kept in optimal condition. Like with all other areas of safety, training is key when it comes to fire prevention. If your employees can recognize the early warning signs of fire, they can respond before flames and smoke have a chance to expand.