As the temperatures finally begin to drop, the probability for residential building fires increase. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, residential building fires are at their highest during the winter months compared to any other time of the year. Every winter approximately 108,400 residential building fires occur in the United States, resulting in 945 deaths. There are several causes for these fires with cooking as the leading cause and heating as the second. Winter fires typically occur in the early evening hours between the hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Winter residential fires are preventable! We all need to take the necessary precautions in order to stay safe. Your friends at the Williamsburg Fire Department recommend the following safety tips to prevent winter residential fires:
- Cooking. Remember to stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. If you have to leave the kitchen for any reason, turn off the stove or any other appliance that you are utilizing to prepare food. Never use your oven to heat your home!
- Space Heaters. Maintain a three-foot clearance between all heating equipment and anything that can burn. Portable space heaters should be turned off every time you the room and before you go to bed. Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Fireplaces. Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Ashes from the fireplace need to be cooled before disposing of them. Your chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually.
- Candles. Avoid using candles all together. If you insist on using them, position them in a sturdy candleholder that won’t burn.
- Electrical Cords. Inspect all electrical cords for damage. If they are cracked or damaged they need to be replaced. Do not try to repair them yourself.
- Smoking. Try smoking outside and dispose of cigarette butts properly. If you decide to smoke indoors don’t leave cigarettes unattended and dispose of them properly. Never smoke in bed!
For more information about winter fires, winter and holiday safety, and much more, visit the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Agency to gain valuable and life saving information.
More holiday and winter weather safety tips are available on the City’s Emergency Preparedness section on the website.
If an emergency occurs, remember to dial 911.
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