The dangers of fire and improper heating increase during the winter. Cold temperatures are a fact of winter. With these cold temperatures comes an increase in the number of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, someone is injured in a fire every 31 minutes and someone dies in a house fire every two and a half hours. Nearly four hundred thousand house fires claimed over twenty five hundred lives in 2009 nationwide. Eighty five percent of all fire related deaths occurred in the home resulting from smoke and toxic fume inhalation. House fires resulting from heating material within the home ranks second for the most deaths and property loss falling behind improperly discarded smoking material. Chimney fires are the number one cause of home heating fires and are typically the result of a poorly maintained chimney where creosote is allowed to build up. Fires resulting from improper use of portable and fixed space heaters including wood stoves are responsible for a disproportionate share of fire deaths. Space heaters are typically involved in 25 percent of home heating fires but account for 74 percent of the deaths.
Listed below are some fire safey tips to ensure you and your family stay safe:
1) Make sure all smoke detectors are working properly and have fresh batteries.
2) Be extremely careful with candles. Colder temperatures result in more burning of candles. Winter storms and power outages further increase the use of candles and oil lamps in the home. Keep candles away from combustible materials. Never leave children unattended in a room with lit candles. Keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
3) Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves. Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of every heating season.
4) Use a sturdy screen or door in front of your fireplace when burning fires.
5) Burn only wood, never burn paper including discarded gift wrap or pine boughs.
6) Do not hang holiday decorations from or on your fireplace if you plan to use it as a heat source.
7) Be aware of overuse of electrical outlets. Don't overload your electrical outlets and be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.
8) Have one or more working fire extinguishers in your home