In winter we're more likely to engage in activities that could be dangerous. Read Realty Times' Winter Fire Safety Tips to be sure you won't accidentally start a fire and that you can put it out quickly and escape safely should one happen.
Have your furnace checked annually. If you are renter, your property management company should do this for you. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, have the chimney and vents checked as well. If you burn fires a lot, have a chimney sweep come out and clean your chimney once a year. Also, make sure your fireplace is covered with a screen to prevent sparks escaping and require children and pets to sit at least three feet away from lit fires in the fireplace.
Test smoke alarms and set up a reminder in your calendar to change the batteries once every six months. Changing them when we gain an hour in the Fall and lose an hour in the Spring is a good standard, easy to remember time. Make sure you have smoke alarms in the kitchen, laundry room, and bedrooms.
Watch out for candles that are lit and never leave them unattended or in a place where they can be knocked over by children or pets. Blow out candles anytime you leave a room. Do the same with smoking materials. Your safest choice is to smoke outside.
Space heaters are another danger. Make sure they have plenty of room to operate, free from curtains tablecloths or other fabrics. Don't allow pets or children any closer than 3 feet to them and make sure they have automatic shut-offs that will turn them off before they get too hot.
Kitchen fires can spread quickly, so have baking soda and salt on hand to put out grease fires (water doesn't help), and have pot lids on hand to smother any pans and pots that get too hot.
Make sure your family knows the escape route and practices it. Teach them to crawl, below the smoke, to the exit from any room. Also make sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch on fire.
Fire extinguishers are a must. Keep one under the kitchen sink and one in the hall closet near the bedrooms. Be sure you have the right extinguisher: A for paper, wood, and trash, B for grease and flammable liquids, and C for small electrical fires.
Finally, make sure everyone in the family knows how to dial 911 in an emergency.