Prevent Home Fires in Winter

hand plugging in space heater

More home fires occur during the winter than any other time of the year due to the high usage of heaters and stoves for holiday cooking. Out of these, most home fires are started because of cooking and are not caused by heater or wiring malfunctions. With winter and the holidays coming up, protect yourself and your family by using the following tips to prevent fires in your home.

Cooking Safety

Never leave your stove unattended, especially when the stovetop is on. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the day with the highest risk of a cooking fire is Thanksgiving. While some of these fires are caused by clothing or other materials catching on fire, the highest amount of them start because the stovetop was left unattended.

Move all cooking utensils, tools, and food that are not in use away from the stovetop. This includes any dishtowels, sponges, paper towels, and cooking utensils. Around one-third of cooking fires start when these types of items catch on fire. Move them away from the source of cooking heat when not in use.

Remove any fried food from your holiday menu if you can. Fried foods have a much higher risk of causing a fire. Not only do they require a higher cooking temperature, but they also make a big mess.

Heating Safety

Extra precautions must be taken when using any heating equipment. Heating your home with a space heater may save you a few bucks on your heating bill, but space heaters also account for over 80 percent of home heating fire deaths.

As with all home heaters, ensure that nothing flammable is near the heater and that the heater is not placed next to anything that could catch on fire. This includes clothing, curtains, and beds. Keep all items at least three feet away from the heater at all times.

Only plug portable heaters directly into the electrical outlet and never use an extension cord. Any damaged cords must be fixed, as well as any loose connections or broken electrical outlets. Be extra careful by purchasing a heater with the automatic shut-off safety feature.

As for fireplaces, keep all flammable items away and be sure to clean them regularly. Never burn anything other than firewood in your fireplace, and always put out the fire completely before leaving, retiring for the night, or leaving the house.

Decorating Safety

For some people, decorating is one of the best parts of the holidays. However, many home fires begin because the proper precautions are not taken with these decorations.

Instead of lighting candles with an actual wick, try using battery-operated candles, which make great holiday decorations. Over half of holiday decoration fires are caused by flammable items simply being too close to a candle flame.

Be sure that there is no source of heat near your Christmas tree that could ignite it, such as a heating vent or lit candles. Also, keep your tree nice and moist by watering it often, as a dry Christmas tree can ignite quickly and easily spread fire to other parts of your home.