As the mercury plummets, out come the sweaters and boots, and people start checking on their supplies of firewood. Autumn and early winter are also busy holiday seasons with big meals and family visits. Furnaces click on and rattle off the dust for the first time in months. It’s also the season when fire departments across Canada see the highest number of incidents.
If your home suffers a fire, you will have to make a claim with your insurance company. There are many reasons why an insurer might try to deny your claim or only pay part of it, such as:
- Wear and tear;
- The damage isn’t covered;
- Work being done without permits or inspections;
- Suspicion of arson or fraud.
But if the loss was accidental, you should still be able to make your claim. Be prepared to work with an insurance lawyer or independent claims adjuster if you do have trouble filing your claim.
Avoid the risks altogether this season. Follow these safety tips to cut the risks of an accident this fall and winter.
#1 Check Your Alarms & Extinguishers
Now is a great time to check your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. There has to be a working smoke detector on every storey of your home and outside every bedroom. You should also have a functioning fire extinguisher ready at hand.
#2 Inspect Your Central Heating
Your HVAC system is just as prone to wear and tear as any other appliance or part of your home. There are several risks that come with central heating, and you should prepare before it’s regularly in use. Check for these HVAC maintenance issues:
- A cracked heat exchanger;
- Leaking fuel lines;
- Dust accumulated in the furnace.
- Loose electrical connections in the wiring.
You should also make sure the area around your furnace or heating unit is clear. When it’s located in the basement, a heating unit can start to compete for space with storage, but crowding around heating units is one of the leading causes of fatal incidents.
#3 Wood Fire Safety
There’s nothing like lighting up a wood fire on a chilly fall day. If you plan on getting some use out of your fireplace, you should make sure your chimney is inspected and swept each year in addition to repairing cracks.
Don’t forget your basic safety tips, such as:
- Keep sparks and debris contained with a screen;
- Don’t ever leave it unattended;
- Don’t store combustibles (such as wood) within three feet of the fireplace;
- Use the same safety precautions with outdoor fires.
#4 Be Careful with Candles
Candles are a major contributor to accidents, but they see a lot of use around this time of year. They light up jack-o’-lanterns and provide a cozy ambiance as part of the centerpiece for holiday dinners. There are a few tips to make sure you can use candles safely:
- Always extinguish candles before you leave the room;
- Don’t let them burn in high-traffic areas where they can easily be knocked over;
- Keep them well away from curtains and other flammable materials;
- Be careful when using them as a light source during power outages, as hazards may go unnoticed.
Fire safety is always important, but the fall and winter seasons mean the risks are higher. Take the necessary precautions, and you can enjoy the season without worry.