When the cold Midwest winds blow outside, the heating equipment in our Wisconsin homes goes to
work to keep us warm. But commonplace activities during the winter months also usher in numerous
fire hazards in the home. Here are a few reminders and tips to help you protect your Turnkey Homes
house and stay safe this winter.
“New Year, New Batteries” should be your motto in January. The start of the new year is a great time to
do a few annual safety checks around the house and replace batteries.
Smoke detectors: If your smoke detectors are battery-operated, replace them with fresh batteries. If
the existing batteries are not yet dead, repurpose them to use in other less crucial items such as
children’s toys, wall clocks, or TV remote controls. An inexpensive handheld battery tester will help you
determine how much energy is left in a battery. Some smoke detectors are wired into the home’s
electrical system and do not use batteries. If you don’t know how your detectors operate, now is the
time to investigate. Push the test button to see if the alarm sounds and confirm that it is working.
Remove it from the wall and inspect it to determine what power source it uses. If it has been
malfunctioning over the past year, replace it now.
Carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced from burning
fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, propane, coal, or wood. A CO detector sounds an alarm if it senses
danger. Since heaters and fireplaces are fired up during the winter, now is the time to check and replace
the batteries in the detectors. If you do not have CO detectors, they can be purchased at a hardware
store. It is recommended that you have an alarm in every room that has a fuel-burning appliance and
one within 16 feet of every bedroom. Learn more about this crucial alarm by reading our prior blog
Carbon Monoxide and Home Safety.
Fireplaces: Hire a professional chimney sweeper to inspect and clean your chimney. The flue should be
open before burning and creosote buildup should be removed. Maintain a screen in front of your
fireplace to prevent sparks from popping wood from landing on the carpet, blankets, or flammable
items. Use only dry, seasoned wood in your fireplace, and don’t burn trash or other items. Extinguish all
hot embers before leaving the house or going to bed.
Appliances: When was the last time you used the space heater? Now is the time to check both its
condition and operation. Inspect the electrical cord for fraying or damage and examine the body of the
appliance for visible damage. Place it in an open, hazard-free area and turn it on to determine how well
it works. If there is any sign of malfunction, do not use the space heater. Malfunctioning space heaters
can easily start a house fire. Keep all loose and flammable items, such as blankets and clothing, several
feet away from the unit. Never leave a space heater unattended, especially around young children.
If you use heated blankets on the beds, inspect the condition of the electrical cords, plugs, control
buttons, and the blanket material. If any part is damaged, consider replacing the blanket with a new
Open Flames: Burning candles are especially popular during the holidays and winter months. But
remember to take caution when using candles around children and pets. Candles can be knocked over
accidentally, and curious pets can unintentionally singe their hair or suffer injury.
Grease fire: With holidays and family comes lots of cooking in the kitchen. It’s important to know how to
extinguish a fire in the kitchen. Flammable liquids such as alcohol, ether, oil, gasoline, and grease, are
best extinguished by smothering. If a grease fire starts, cover the flames with a metal lid or cookie sheet
and turn off the heat source. If it’s small and manageable, pour baking soda or salt on it to smother the
fire. Do not try to extinguish the fire with water because grease makes water splatter and will burn you
or spread the fire. If necessary, spray the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher, which is used
to smother and extinguish flammable liquids.
Fire extinguisher canister: Purchase a fire extinguisher and place it in the kitchen or in a location you
can access quickly. Read the instructions for the extinguisher and watch videos on how to properly
operate it so that you will be able to use it when needed.
Turnkey Homes Values Your Safety
We hope you found the suggestions in this article helpful as you weather the colder months in
Wisconsin. Check out our blog for other helpful articles posted each month. Turnkey Homes LLC is a
custom home builder and remodeler in the Appleton-Green Bay area. Learn more about us and our
services at turnkeyhomesllc.com or reach us by phone at (920) 470-4315.