House fires occur most often in winter. As a property Supervisor at Pekin Insurance, I see a lot of house fires this time of year that could have easily been prevented if proper fire safety precautions were followed. According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, about 900 people die in winter home fires each year, and approximately $2,000,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires. Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires, which explains why most house fires occur between 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Below I have listed some of the most common causes of winter home fires and ways to prevent them from occurring.
- Clean your appliances frequently. Spilled food inside an oven or microwave is also a contributing factor to kitchen fires.
- Clear away combustible items near the stovetop before turning it on. Hot burners can easily ignite food and grease that has splashed out of the pan.
- Measure a 3-foot zone to keep children away from the oven/stove.
- Do not leave the kitchen unattended while cooking.
- Never pour water on a grease fire. Put a lid on the pot/pan thereby cutting off the oxygen to the fire.
- Never carry a burning pan to the sink or outside the home; it could fan the flames and create a larger fire.
Improper Use of Heating Appliances
- Never use the oven to heat your home.
- Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Make sure to have your furnace serviced by a qualified professional once a year.
- Never use extension cords to connect appliances to the wall outlet.
Improper Use of Wood Burning Stoves
- Before you go to sleep, be sure that your fireplace fire is completely out.
- Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace to prevent carbon monoxide entering the home.
- Do not use excessive amounts of paper to build a fire. Overbuilding the fire could ignite creosote in the chimney.
- Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.
I hope that you will find these winter safety tips helpful to take you through the remainder of the winter months and wish you a happy and safe 2014.