The concept of a house fire is one that’s terrifying for most of us and the risks of this happening are even higher in the winter. There are some general things to know, for example, never leave a flame unattended, but there are other comprehensive steps you can take to reduce the risk of a house fire in your home.
So what should you know this winter to keep your home and family safe from a possible fire?
Understand the True Risk
You might not fully understand the potential risk of a housefire. It’s more common than you might believe.
For example, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, 890 people die in house fires every winter. There is $2 billion in property loss annually due to winter home fires and winter home fires only makeup 8% of the total number of fires in the country but lead to 30% of all fire deaths.
The hours between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. are the most common time winter fires begin.
The kitchen is a source of most of the fire hazards in a home, and this is a risk not just during the winter but year-round. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking equipment was the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries between 2010 and 2014.
You should always stay in the kitchen no matter what or how you’re cooking. If you leave the kitchen even for a moment, you should turn the stove off before you leave.
Always wear short sleeves or roll your sleeves up when you’re cooking, and don’t prepare food if you’re drowsy, have been drinking or have taken certain medicines.
You should also make sure kids are far from areas where you’re actively cooking.
During the winter months, heaters are a huge fire risk.
If you have a space heater, it should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn. This includes clothes, bedding, and curtains.
If you have a space heater, ensure that it has an automatic shutoff feature. With this feature, if the heater tips over, it will turn itself off.
Don’t leave heaters on when you’re going to bed or not in the room, and don’t plug heaters in using an extension cord.
If you have a fireplace, make sure you have a screen in front of it and don’t burn paper in the fireplace. Always put the fire out before you go to bed, and the same goes for using a wood stove.
With your furnace, have it inspected each year and keep any items that can burn away from it.
There was an average of 9,300 housefires from 2009 to 2013 that were started by candles. These led to an estimated 86 deaths and around $374 million in property damage.
If you use candles, make sure they’re placed a minimum of 12 inches from anything that can burn, and don’t use them in bedrooms. If you leave the room, blow the candles out, and make sure that you never burn a candle all the way down.
Put candles only on an even, steady surface and never an uneven surface. Along with keeping them away from children, also make sure pets can’t reach any burning candles.
Other general tips to reduce the risk of a fire include:
- Regularly inspect any source of heat in your home to make sure they’re working properly and aren’t damaged
- Keep your oven and stove clean because old food can get too hot and start a fire
- Check your dryer each year. You need to clean out the lint trap every time you put in a new load and check behind your dryer as well to make sure there isn’t any lint or any clothes back there.
- Before you plug anything in, check for damage to the cord. Make sure that the cord isn’t frayed at all and if you see damaged wires, replace this because this can be a massive fire hazard.
- Store flammable items properly, such as cosmetics like hairspray. If something flammable is exposed to heat it can combust.
- Keep fire extinguishers in your home and especially in your kitchen.
Finally, make sure everyone in your home is on the same page as far as fire safety. Ensure everyone knows the rules and risks of a fire and that everyone is doing their best to prevent a winter housefire.