Here in New England, the winter weather is in full swing. With the cold weather comes the threat of home fires from heating sources. According to the US Fire Administration (USFA):
- 890 people die in winter home fires each year.
- $2 billion in property loss occurs each year from winter home fires.
- Winter home fires account for only 8 percent of the total number of fires in the U.S., but result in 30 percent of all fire deaths.
- Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires.
- A heat source too close to combustibles is the leading factor contributing to the start of a winter home fire (15 percent).
- 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the most common time for winter home fires.
Home Heating Safety
Heating is the second leading cause of all winter home fires.
- Install and test carbon monoxide and smoke alarms at least once a month.
- Clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year.
- Keep cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container at least 10 feet from any buildings.
- Maintain a 3 foot safety zone from any heat source.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
Space Heater Safety
The leading cause of portable heater fires is placing a heat source too close to combustible objects.
- Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface.
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn.
- Inspect your space heater for cracked or damaged cords and broken plugs.
- Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Choose space heaters that turn off automatically when tipped over.
- Purchase and use only space heaters that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Non-working smoke alarms result in three out of five home fire deaths.
- Choose interconnected smoke alarms, so when one sounds, they all sound.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area.
- Install alarms on every level of the home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
Fire Escape Plan
Once the smoke alarm sounds, you could have less than 2 minutes to get out safely.
- Make a fire escape plan.
- Draw a map of each level of your home showing all doors and windows.
- Review the map with everyone in the home.
- Plan two ways out of every room.
- Choose a meeting place outside and away from your home.
- Make sure all doors and windows are in working order and can open easily.
- Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year.
- If there is a fire in your home, get out and stay out.
- Never go back inside for people, pets or things.
Following these winter fire safety tips will help keep your family and home safe during the winter months.
To learn more about VERTEX’s Forensic Fire Investigation Services or to speak with a Fire Investigation Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.