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®insurance agencies offer tips for the New Year to protect families and businesses from winter fire risks.

Branford, Connecticut, January 04, 2016— The winter season is brightened with candles and additional lighting due to shortened days, and colder weather offers the chance to finally start cozy fires in unused fireplaces or warm things up with alternative heat sources like electric heaters. Unfortunately, winter is also a prime time for fire-related injuries, property damage, and even deaths. Trusted Choice®agents and spokespeople can help families prepare for fire risks and hazards that may come during the colder months.

“Winterbrings a greater risk for fires,” says Pauline Handy of V.F. McNeil Insurance in Branford, Connecticut, a Trusted Choice® agency.  “Taking some time to ensure that your home is protected against fire hazards can prevent thousands of dollars in damage, unnecessary headaches, and potentially save lives.”

Lighting and Flames

  According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2014 alone, more than 3,000 civilians died from fires and almost 16,000 were injured. Additionally, 97 firefighters died and almost 66,000 were injured in the same year.

To help families and businesses enjoy the colder season and protect themselves against winter fire risks, Trusted Choice® agency V.F. McNeil Insurance offers the following tips to ensure a fire-safe home this winter:

  • COOKING FIRES: Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. Never leave anything cooking unattended and keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. In addition, be sure you are aware of how to properly operate the extinguisher.

  • CANDLES: Avoid using lit candles. If you do use candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Also keep them out of the reach of children and pets. Never leave a home, or even a room, with unattended candles burning.

  • SMOKE ALARMS: Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the batteries each month and change them at least once a year.

  • CHIMNEYS: Have the chimney, chimney vent, and flue cleaned and inspected annually. Never burn trash or wood that is painted or pressure-treated inside the home. Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

  • FUELS: Never use gasoline or other alternative fuels in a kerosene heater.

  • OUTLETS: Do not overload outlets and use surge protectors.

  • THE ELDERLY: Check on older adults and help them inspect their homes. Older people have a higher risk of injury from fires and are also more likely to die in fires or of fire-related injuries than those in younger age groups.

Keeping Warm

Additional ways to keep warm while playing it safe.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • If using auxiliary heat sources, always use extreme caution. Never leave fireplaces, woodstoves, or space heaters unattended.

  • Speak with a trusted contractor about doing a winter inspection on your home. You may want to install plastic coating over your windows and doors, a sump pump in your basement, storm windows, or consider purchasing special padding or foam to prevent drafts around cracks where air can escape or enter. If a complete storm window upgrade is not in the budget, consider replacing old storm windows on just the northern exposure of your home where it is vulnerable to the cold.

  • Add extra insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air during colder months.

  • Have the heating system regularly serviced. Furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.

V.F. McNeil Insurance is a local Trusted Choice® agency that represents multiple insurance companies, so it offers you a variety of personal and business coverage choices and can customize an insurance plan to meet your specialized needs. This firm adheres to a pledge of performance, committing them to providing excellent customer service. You can visit V.F. McNeil Insurance online at or call at 203-481-2684.


500 East Main St.
Suite 200
Branford, CT 06405


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