With the holidays behind us, and lingering winter months ahead of us, it is important for families and households to continue their efforts to protect their homes against fire and other home damage. The leading causes of winter fires and incidents are candles, heating equipment and cooking. Fires caused by these factors are often mishaps; misfortunes that start out small but lead to extensive damage. This damage ranges from mental to physical to emotional. This damage drains both time and finances as homeowner’s attempt to repair and resume their normal lives. It’s easier to take precaution and avoid this winter calamity altogether.
Surprisingly, the pretty little candles that illuminate your space and freshen your room play a large role in causing those pesky winter fires that plague a large part of the nation each winter. Candles are the cause of fires for a number of reasons. If you choose to burn candles, make sure that the candleholders you use are sturdy, and don’t tip over easily. Ensure that the surface in which you place any candle or holder is sturdy and clutter free. An uneven surface increases the odds of a tipped candle and debris is likely to be caught in the untamed flames.
These tips can lessen the odds of a series of very unfortunate events and avoid candle mishaps.
- In the event of a blackout, use flashlights and battery operated lighting sources. Never use candles as an extended source of light or heat.
- Remember that candles are the liaison to flames. The culprit here is not the candle or its holder; it’s the open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that is flammable.
- Blow out burning candles when you leave the room and NEVER light candles when you are in a position to fall asleep, intentional or accidental.
In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. With statistics like this, fire safety should be at the top of everyone’s “Things to Do” list. Half (50%) of all home heating fires occurred in the winter months of December, January and February. Here are a few tips.
- Do not place things that can burn too close to heating equipment or place heating equipment too close to things that can burn.
- Items such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding should never be near your space or portable heater.
- Aging space heaters should be serviced and cleaned to ensure they are in perfect working order. The tiniest spark can cause a much bigger problem.
Although fires initiated through cooking related functions can happen year round, it is important to take precaution when cooking during the winter.
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains) away from your stovetop.