Put a Freeze on Winter Fires 12/15/2014

Most fires occur during the winter. That probably brings to mind Christmas tree fires and while that is a factor, it is not the main source of home fires in the winter.

Unattended cooking is the primary source of fires. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Stay in the kitchen while cooking! If you walk away, set a timer. If you carry your cell phone with you at all times, set the timer on your phone to remind you that you have something on the stove.

Portable heaters and stationary wood stoves are the second largest source of home fires during winter months. Make certain you keep your wood stove chimney clear of creosote and keep your portable heaters a safe distance from flammable objects, including your upholstered furniture, blankets, clothing, etc. Turn portable heaters off when you leave the home.

Next up is Holiday decorations. Electrical failures or malfunctions were involved in one-third (33%) of the home Christmas tree structure fires. One in six (17%) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Candles too close to the tree are another source. Turn off your holiday lights when you are not home and always keep the candles a safe distance from the tree.

Winter storms bring their own fire hazards. Damaged utility lines can present a fire hazard. Frozen water pipes can burst causing not just water damage to your home, but further electrical safety issues. Generators that are used during power outages, if not properly used can be very hazardous. The damage done to your home from any of these issues should only be repaired by experienced contractors that specialize in water and fire restoration.

If you have not done so within the last year, make certain to change the battery and check your smoke detectors. Make certain you have fire extinguishers in an accessible place. Most importantly, have in place a family escape plan. Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.

For more information download the National Fire Protection Association’s Winter Safety Tips Brochure.