With our first real cold snap of the season forecasted for this weekend, it serves as the perfect opportunity to remind everyone of some basic information to help stay safe. We’re coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas and the last thing we want anyone to have to experience is a tragedy. While nearly half of the home heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February, the increased concern comes whenever cold weather moves in and we start to heat our homes. Heating equipment is involved in 1 of every 6 reported house fires and the cause of deaths in 1 of every 5 house fires. Furthermore, in 2009-2013, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 470 civilian deaths, 1,490 civilian injuries, and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 16% of all reported home fires.
Additionally, Based on 2009-2013 annual averages:
• Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for two of every five (40%) of home heating fires and four out of five (84%) of home heating fire deaths. • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (30%) was a failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. • Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (56%) of home heating fire deaths.
Statistics provided by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) – www.nfpa.org
Here are some basic safety tips courtesy of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heat sources such as fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators and space heaters. o Have a 3-foot “kid free zone” around open fires and heat sources such as space heaters. - NEVER use an oven to heat your home. - Have a qualified professional inspect and if necessary clean your chimney every year. - Use a sturdy screen in front of your fireplace to keep sparks and embers from flying into your room - When cleaning out your fireplace after use, store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet away from your home and any nearby buildings. - When using heat producing appliances such as a space heater, plug only one into an outlet at a time. - Remember to turn off space heaters when leaving your home or going to bed. - For fuel burning space heaters, use the right kind of fuel specified by the manufacturer. - Ensure that your home has working smoke detectors with fresh batteries as well as carbon monoxide detectors if your home is furnished with gas cooking and/or heating appliances.