Winter is a time to be ‘fire smart.’ Home fires occur in winter often. Surprising, isn’t it? This is the time when you and your family are most vulnerable as it is only fire for cooking that you think about in this season. It is at this time of the year that most homes use unsafe heat sources or slip following fire safety rules while using candles in the kitchen.
The United State Fire Administration (USFA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have rolled out their analysis, which says that half of all home fires occur in the month of December, January and February. Let’s take a look at the common causes of fires at home.
- Residential properties have reported carbon monoxide incidents during the winter months. 2006-2010, municipal fire departments have received calls for an annual average of 72,000 carbon monoxide incidents. These calls have been common during the early evening hours.
- Electricity, our basic needs, is another source of fire. The only way we can keep our home safe from electrical hazards is by taking good care of appliances. Using all electrical equipment properly and according to the instructions goes a long way in preventing home fires.
- Heating appliances are one of the leading causes of home fires in winter months. Heaters can burst and cause a fire if left on for very long.
- Cooking has been reported to have caused about 156,300 home structure fires in 2011. The U.S. fire departments has reported that cooking has caused 43% of the home fires, 38% of home fire injuries, 16% of home fire deaths, and 12% of damage to property. NFPA discourages using outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers. These fryers need a lot of oil to immerse the turkey while cooking. They use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at extremely high cooking temperatures and this pose danger of hot oil being released at some point during the cooking process. This hot oil can catch fire immediately.
- Candles are dangerous too. The top three days when home candle fires have been reported are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Among the total calls for fires attended by the U.S. fire department on an annual average, 10,630 home structure fires have been caused by candles.
- Winter holiday season also means decorations made of paper and other inflammable materials. There are fires and injuries associated with holiday decorating materials during this season. The US fire department says that there have been 230 home structure fires that started with Christmas trees between 2007 and 2011. Decorative lights on line voltage have been the cause for the most of these fires and resulted in 12% of these incidents. Electrical failures or malfunctions were the main factors in most of them. All these have involved holiday or decorative lights. On an average, there has been one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires that have resulted in a death.
We can prevent these fires easily with a little precaution and care. It is good to have a fireplace screen or heat tempered glass in front of the fireplace. Keeping children at least 10 feet away from the cooking fire is another good way to prevent injuries. Ensuring that portable heaters can automatically shut off is a good way of avoiding heater appliance fires. Testing the carbon monoxide alarms to ensure that they are working fine is a must in every winter.
Stay Tuned! We will be back with more tips to prevent domestic winter fires.