Temperatures are dropping here in New England — which means more residents are cozying up inside their homes. Here at HIG, we want you and your family to stay warm during the cold months ahead, but we also want you to remain safe, which is why we’re offering important information to keep in mind when heating your home this season.


A fire can be a great way to warm your house while setting a cozy atmosphere. But if proper precautions are not followed, your fireplace can pose a serious hazard to your home. Before starting a fire in your home, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • After being out of use for the season, have your chimney inspected by a certified professional. It’s important to clean and repair your chimney annually as debris can build up within the walls of a chimney.
  • Before starting a fire, light a match and quickly blow it out. Watch to see if the smoke goes into the chimney or comes into your home. Do not light a fire if the smoke comes into your home.
  • Fireplaces should only be lit for short durations — do not leave one lit for longer than five hours.
  • Keep your fireplace screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto surfaces within your home.
  • Never leave a burning fire unattended. It’s important to supervise children while a fire is burning — be sure to talk to little ones about the dangers of fireplaces as well.
  • Avoid placing flammable items within 10 feet of your fireplace.

Space Heaters

If you’re using portable space heaters for a little extra warmth within your home, here are a few safety precautions to follow:

  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces at least three feet away from flammable items.
  • Before turning on your space heater, inspect it for cracked wiring or broken plugs. If the space heater is damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • Always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Space heaters require a lot of energy, therefore, using an extension cord or power strip can cause the circuit to overload and result in a fire.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn off and unplug the heater when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Make sure your space heater has an anti-tipping feature. This will ensure that if your space heater is knocked over, it will turn off.

Wood or Pellet Stoves

Do you have a wood or pellet stove in your home? Just like a fireplace, wood or pellet stoves require careful maintenance and operation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Proper ventilation is key for any wood burning stove system. Make sure your wood stove complies with all fire codes and inspect your ventilation system before lighting your stove for the first time of the season.
  • Take precautions if you have children or pets in your home to make sure they do not come in close contact with your stove.
  • Install and test carbon monoxide detectors near your stove.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and use only recommended pellets for your stove.

Other Safety Tips

Here are a few other reminders to keep your home and family safe this winter.

  • Have a licensed and insured HVAC professional inspect your furnace annually.
  • Never use your oven or stove as a source of heat.
  • Test all smoke detectors in your home once a month.

If you have unanswered questions about protecting your home this season — an HIG insurance agent is happy to help! Give us a call at 508-676-5949 to review your current homeowners insurance policy.