During the colder months, it’s crucial to emphasize fire safety. You want to stay warm and cozy, but it’s important to understand the increased risk of house fires during this season. More house fires occur in the winter months than at any other time of the year. The good news is that you can reduce this risk with some caution and attention. Here are six tips to help you prevent a house fire and stay safe this season.

Helpful Tips to Prevent a House Fire

1. Check Your Heating System

Have your heating system inspected and cleaned every year by a professional HVAC technician. You’ll verify it’s in good condition and operating efficiently. Replace the HVAC filters regularly. Dirty filters force the system to work harder and potentially overheat.

2. Be Careful with Portable Heaters

Space heaters are a popular way to warm small rooms in the winter. However, they are also a leading cause of house fires. If you must use a space heater, place the appliance at least three feet away from materials that can catch fire, such as curtains and furniture. Never leave a space heater unattended or use it while you sleep.

3. Keep Your Chimney Cleaned to Prevent a House Fire

If you have a fireplace, hire a chimney sweep to clean and maintain the structure. Creosote buildup can ignite and cause a chimney fire, which can spread to the rest of your home. Also, verify the damper is open before starting a fire to ensure good airflow, and never leave a fire unattended.

4. Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets

During the winter, your family members use more electronics, devices, candles, and lights than usual. However, don’t be tempted to overload electrical outlets or extension cords, as this can cause a fire. Use only one heat-producing appliance – such as a blow dryer, space heater, or electric blanket – at a time in each outlet. If you need additional outlets, hire an electrician to add another circuit to your home.

5. Have Fire Extinguishers on Hand

Keep a working fire extinguisher on every level of your home, and verify everyone in your family knows how to use them. Make sure there is an extinguisher in all areas with an increased fire risk, like the kitchen and garage. Install smoke detectors on every floor, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas.

6. Be Careful with Home Decor

Decor items add personality and style to your living spaces; however, be careful where you place them. If using candles, keep them away from curtains, blankets, and other flammable materials. Choose battery-operated candles if you have pets or young children in the home.

Keeping your home safe during the winter months is easy and worth it for peace of mind. Following these six tips will significantly reduce the risk of a house fire and allow you to enjoy a cozy, safe winter season.


How can I verify the heating system is winter-ready without a professional inspection?
While professional inspections are best, replace the HVAC filters regularly and check for unusual sounds or odors from your heating system to catch potential issues early.

What should I do if I notice an unusual smell coming from the heating system during winter?
If you detect a strange odor, turn off your heating system immediately, ventilate the area, and contact a professional technician for inspection and repairs to reduce fire hazards.

Are there alternative ways to stay warm while using less energy?
Yes, wear layered clothing, install thermal curtains, and use draft stoppers for doors to keep the living spaces warmer.

Is there a DIY method to clean a chimney at home?
While hiring a professional chimney sweep is necessary for safety, you can use chimney cleaning logs as a supplemental measure. However, schedule a professional cleaning for thorough maintenance and to improve safety.

Can smart home technology enhance fire safety measures in the winter?
Yes. Invest in smart smoke detectors to provide real-time alerts.

Rambo Inspection Services provides professional inspection services to homebuyers and sellers in the Chicagoland area. Contact us to request an appointment.