Home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months. Holiday decorations and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter. According to NFPA’s Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment (PDF, 723 KB) report, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 66,100 reported home structure fires in 2008, resulting in 480 civilian deaths, 1,660 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. Winter fires may be prevented by following the safety tips below.
Be safe and warm this winter and follow these safety tips:
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
• Never close the fireplace damper with hot coals in the fireplace.
• Test smoke alarms monthly.
• A properly rated and sized fire extinguisher should be readily available on each floor of the home.