Winter Fire Safety Tips for Protecting Your Home

Posted on November 7, 2023


Frances Badayos | author

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ICHQ | Site Author

As the weather turns cold, heating sources are necessary in the home, but they carry risks. Using equipment properly and heeding winter fire safety tips can protect your home during the cold months.

If you have a fire in your home, call our fire damage claim attorneys serving New Orleans at Insurance Claim HQ. We can help you file a claim or appeal the insurance company’s denial.

What Winter Fire Safety Tips To Know To Avoid Heating Equipment Fires

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. It is also the second leading cause of injuries and the third leading cause of deaths and property damage.

What equipment causes the most damage?

Unsurprisingly, heating equipment fires happen most often in winter when people use them to warm their homes. The highest numbers of home fires occur between November and March.

Most fires occur in portable or fixed space heaters and chimneys or flues.

How do space heaters cause fires?

Space heaters are the leading culprits for deaths, injuries, and property damage. While they account for only 33% of home fires, they caused 88% of deaths and 80% of injuries related to fires between 2016-2020, according to the latest information available from the NFPA.

Vital winter fire safety tips include using space heaters correctly. If proper precautions are not taken, these devices can ignite flammable materials, such as bedding, curtains, or upholstered furniture. They should stay at least three feet away from any combustible materials.

A space heater can also start a fire when someone plugs it into an extension cord or power strip instead of the wall. Using an extension cord can cause the circuit to overload.

How do chimneys cause fires?

A cracked chimney liner can cause a fire to start by allowing combustible gases and smoke to escape. They can create an open flame that ignites nearby furniture, carpet, or wood. Chimneys can crack from exposure to weather, such as heavy rain and wind, or normal house settling.

Creosote buildup in the chimney is another fire hazard. Creosote is a flammable substance that forms when wood burns and the smoke leaves deposits in the chimney. If it builds up over time, it accumulates and reduces chimney space. These factors can cause a fire. One of the most critical winter fire safety tips for fireplace owners is to have a professional clean and inspect them annually.

Can furnaces cause fires?

While less common, fires due to central heating equipment can happen. You are more likely to experience a furnace fire if your heater is aging or poorly maintained. Maintain your furnace to prevent:

  • Clogged filters
  • Worn motor bearings
  • Exposed or corroded wiring
  • Dirt around the motor

Have a professional inspect your furnace annually and keep combustible materials (such as cardboard boxes or clothing) away.

Dryer Fires During the Winter Months

While you’re ensuring the safety of heat sources around your home, now’s a good time to check the condition of your clothing dryer. The National Fire Protection Association reported that an estimated 13,820 home structural fires per year through 2014-2018 were started by dryers.

You can avoid a dryer fire with these tips:

  • Clean out lint build-up from ducts and vents.
  • Don’t overload the dryer.
  • Keep combustible materials away from the machine.
  • Prevent mechanical and electrical failures by keeping your dryer in good repair.

What Are Important Holiday Winter Fire Safety Tips?

Holiday decorations can also present fire hazards. To stay safe for the holidays, be careful to:

  • Keep freshly cut trees watered to prevent drying
  • Properly dispose of cut trees after the holidays
  • Follow the directions for using decorative lighting
  • Replace old lights with less-flammable LED lights
  • Place flammable decorations at least three feet away from heating sources

Also, remember to unplug your decorations before going to bed or leaving your house.

How To File a Claim After a Fire Accident in the Home

Unfortunately, fires can happen even when following winter fire safety tips. Once everyone is safe, your insurance company is likely the first place you turn.

Preparing for your claim involves a few steps.

1. Document the damage

Take videos and photos of the fire damage after you get clearance from the authorities to enter the space. Document any damage to your structure, personal items, and expensive electronics.

2. Keep receipts of expenses

Track your living expenses, including hotel and restaurant bills, while living away from your home. Loss of use coverage can help pay for these costs.

3. Secure your property

Board up broken doors and windows to prevent theft or weather damage. Secure your property with fencing if possible.

4. Call our property damage lawyers

The fire damage lawyers at Insurance Claim HQ can help you from the outset. We ensure your claim paperwork is accurate and filed promptly.

What To Do if the Insurance Company Doesn’t Pay

After purchasing a policy and paying your premiums regularly, you naturally expect your insurer to be on your side. You count on the company to provide you with the compensation you deserve after a fire, especially if you carefully follow winter fire safety tips.

However, insurance companies sometimes offer settlements lower than you should receive.

They figure that you want to settle your claim as quickly as possible, and so will immediately accept a low offer. After all, you want to repair the damage and move forward.

The problem is that the insurance company’s initial offer may be substantially lower than what you are entitled to. In some cases, the insurance company may deny your claim.

Tactics insurance companies sometimes use

Insurance companies have claims adjusters who may seek reasons to deny your case or offer a low compensation payment. They may argue that the value of your property damage is lower than the actual amount. They may disagree over what covered property the fire damaged or destroyed. They may even go as far as to accuse you of fraud or starting the fire intentionally to make an insurance claim, even though you were careful and followed fire safety guidelines.

Insurers often use more subtle tactics as well to avoid paying the total amount. The company may claim you don’t have a covered loss, or they may delay the compensation process.

If you believe your insurance company is refusing to pay the full amount for your claim, our property damage lawyers can assist you. We will investigate your case and negotiate with the company for fair compensation.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation About Your House Fire Damage Claim

A fire can still happen even though you follow winter fire safety tips. Contact our house fire damage claim attorneys at Insurance Claim HQ after a fire. Our attorneys work with people in the New Orleans area to calculate your losses and get the compensation you merit.