Winter Fire Hazards
With the cold weather finally here, all you may wish is to keep your home nice and toasty. While fire hazards may be the last thing on your mind, it is important to be aware that most home fires occur between December and March. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 905 people die each year in winter fires.
In more recent years, cooking has become a major fire hazard. Many families have turned to deep-fryers and other appliances to cook their holiday means, often leaving them unattended. In fact, unattended ranges, ovens and turkey fryers used for the making of holiday meals accounted for 67 percent of all winter cooking fires.
Many people rely on a furnace to keep their homes warm and cozy. However, because they often run constantly to keep the temperature consistent, they can be a serious fire hazard if they were not properly maintained.
Proper maintenance by qualified specialists will reduce any potential fire hazard from the furnace. Additionally, homeowners can further reduce fire risks by ensuring that the emergency shutoffs and all of the controls are working. Finally, they can also ensure that there is no trash or flammable items near the furnace or the vents.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
With heating prices being so high, many homeowners are looking for other ways to warm up their abode. Fireplaces and wood stoves are often popular alternatives. To reduce the risk of a winter fire, homeowners should ensure that the fireplace or stove is properly installed in an area that has adequate clearance away from furniture or anything that could potentially catch fire. Chimneys should always be inspected and cleaned prior to being used, especially if there has been some time between uses.
Kerosene heaters can be hazardous if the homeowner does not know how to use them. Because kerosene heaters can emit deadly fumes, they should only be used in areas that are well ventilated. No other fuel source should ever be used. Additionally, it is recommended that homeowners refuel the furnace outdoors and only refuel while the heater was turned off.
One of the biggest risks that you may not be aware of are Christmas trees. While the trees themselves are not dangerous, the lights give off quite a bit of heat when left on for certain periods of time. Frayed wires and plugs can start fires, especially if the family is using a live Christmas tree or if there are flammable objects nearby. Unattended Christmas trees should never be left with the lights on.
Reducing the Risk of Fire
There are many ways that you can reduce the risk of causing a winter fire at home. One of the most important and easiest ways to avoid a fire hazard is to never use ranges, stoves and other similar appliances for heating. Additionally, family members should follow the instructions when utilizing space heaters and other appropriate heating appliances.
Families can also prepare for a fire by ensuring that all smoke detectors are working and by keeping any fire hydrants clear of snow and other debris. This way, if a fire does occur, it can be dealt with safely and quickly by firefighters and other appropriately trained professionals.