The holiday season has passed and you’ve avoided a hazardous fire situation that could have been caused via decorating, cooking, or other holiday related activities. But the winter months are still lingering, and that means opportunities for fire dangers are still present.
Winter months are a threat for fire safety because winter storms can cause families to be stranded without power sources, and in these situations they’ll use generators and other forms of nontraditional heating devices. Candle, heating appliances, cooking, and others are also fire threats. (Though some of these these aren’t explicitly unique to the winter months.)
What the Stats Tell Us
According to FEMA, 905 people die in home fires during the winter months every year, and $2,091,000,000 worth of property loss occurs from winter home fires.
These fires most commonly occur in one and two family homes (67 percent), and cooking is the leading cause. The most common time that people experience a winter fire is from 5 to 8 p.m.
The NFPA tells us that heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. The biggest reason for these incidents is due to space heaters, who are the culprit in every two out of five fires (40 percent), according to the NFPA.
And fires aren’t even the only threat posed during the winter months. Using nontraditional and improper heat sources and burning wood, coal, gasoline, propane, or other materials can lead to CO poisoning. So how can you prepare against one of these situations?
How to Prevent a Fire Related Disaster
Preventing a winter fire requires some of the same preparation and safety measures as fires during other seasons. Especially when it comes to the kitchen, appliances, and any home decor that is flammable.
Simple measure to prevent an incident:
- Never plug a major appliance into an extension cord, including washers, dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
- Make sure that cords aren’t overheated, frayed or cracked.
- Never use portable heaters with an extension cord.
- Keep a portable generator in a well ventilated area.
- Never store flammable materials or liquids near an open flame.
- Turn space heaters off whenever you go to bed or leave the room.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
- Don’t allow kids or pets to play near space heaters or flammable items that can be knocked over.
- Clean and inspect the chimney and heating system every single year.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month, change batteries every year, and replace the alarm every 10 years.
- Know how to respond to a fire emergency and have evacuation plans.
- Use a screen for fireplaces and make sure that sparks or embers aren’t capable of escaping and catching surroundings on fire.
- Never use barbecues, charcoal grills, or camp stoves indoors. They produce poisonous CO gas.
- Never leave kitchen appliances on or food unattended while cooking.
Important winter tip: Keep snow and ice three feet away from fire hydrants so firefighters can access them quickly if there is ever an emergency.
Fire emergencies are preventable, as long as you take the proper precautions and are aware of where dangers lie.
Share these winter fire tips with your friends and family so they are also on top of safety precautions.