Winter is well and truly on its way and staying warm and toasty during the colder winter months is no doubt a basic human necessity. But as apartment owners and renters get resourceful with their techniques, the risk of disaster lurks. Heating your small space is a must, but the right safety precautions may be the difference between a cosy night and a potentially life-threatening catastrophe. Below, we outline some of the main causes of apartment fires and how you can prevent one from setting your humble abode ablaze.

Cooking - Lots of cooking and baking takes place during the cold winter months when the desire for warm, home-cooked meals is at its peak. Don’t deny yourself a hearty feast, just be mindful of how you go about it.

  • Keep oven mitts, dish cloths and food packaging far away from the stove top area.
  • Do not fall asleep while cooking. If you’re too fatigued, turn the meal off and finish it once you’re fully awake and alert.
  • Use a timer to remind you that food is cooking. If your microwave or oven doesn't have one, use your phone to set an alarm.

Candles - Although they’re not the most effective heating choice, candles are often used to set a romantic atmosphere. They also come in handy when power has been lost. But they're also known to start fires.

  • Always use candle holders and make sure that the surface is flat and away from the edge where it may tip over.
  • Remove all surrounding furniture and avoid placement near clothing, curtains or bedding
  • Opt for flashlights instead of candles in case of a power outage
  • Blow out candles before going to sleep and any time you leave your apartment.

Heaters -  Fire-related home incidents caused by heating mechanisms largely take place during the winter when using portable heating devices:

  • Anything that can melt or burn (plastic/ fabric) should be at least three feet away from the heater.
  • Never leave these small heaters on all day or night, even when you go to sleep.
  • Children and pets should not be allowed in the same area where portable space heaters are in use.
  • Follow your space heater's directions exactly.

In general, you should always be prepared for a fire emergency at all times. It may not happen in your unit, but it could take place right next door.

  • Check with your apartment manager about whether or not your building has an escape plan. Knowing escape routes and alternatives ahead of time is a great thing.
  • Check smoke detectors every time daylight savings begins/ ends.
  • Always have a functioning fire extinguisher available in your apartment.