By AAA of Western and Central New York
Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 9-15, and AAA Insurance has tips to keep homeowners safe.
AAA Insurance recommends that homeowners create a home fire escape plan and use caution when cooking and using appliances. Also, set a reminder for smoke alarm replacement and testing. According to the National Fire Protection Association, properly installed smoke alarms cut the risk of home fire deaths in half. Nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
“Smoke detectors save lives,” said Stacey McConnell, director of insurance at AAA Western and Central New York. “Fire Prevention Week is a good time for homeowners and renters to make sure they are equipped with a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. It’s also a good time to review insurance needs.”
With many Western and Central New Yorkers struggling over whether to turn on the furnace amid cold nights and mornings, homeowners may consider fireplaces or electric heaters in the meantime. But first, there are safety precautions to consider.
Homeowners need to maintain and service both the fireplace and chimney. Regular chimney inspections can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur if the fireplace and chimney are poorly ventilated. An experienced chimney professional can also tell if a chimney’s walls have a buildup of creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. Creosote is a fire hazard that can ignite and lead to chimney fires. It’s also toxic; exposure to creosote can irritate the eyes and skin and cause respiratory issues.
In addition, a chimney sweep can determine if the temperature of a chimney flue is too high, which can lead to a chimney fire. Once the fireplace and chimney have been inspected and serviced (if needed), it’s important to practice good safety habits to prevent a dangerous fire.
AAA and the New York State Homeland and Security Services (NYSHSS) recommend the following maintenance practices for your fireplace and chimney:
√ Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods.
√ Install a chimney cap.
√ Install a carbon monoxide detector.
√ Have a chimney sweep ensure that the chimney has an appropriate liner.
√ Be sure a wood or coal stove is installed at least 36 inches away from the wall and keep combustible materials far from the stove and chimney connector. NYSHSS also recommends placing an approved stove board under the unit to protect the floor from heat.
Find more information on AAA Insurance at www.AAA.com/Insurance.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.