An average of 905 people die in winter home fires each year. In addition, more than $2 billion in property loss occurs. 67% of these fires occur in one and two-family houses. These numbers are startling and real! There are several precautions you can take to prevent these tragedies from happening to you and your family.

One of the reasons for an increase in home fires during the winter months are home heating sources. These include space heaters, wood burning appliances and fireplaces, fuel burning appliances and chimneys. All of these, when used properly, are great ways of making your home warmer. However, if you aren't up on proper maintenance and safety you are putting your family at risk. When using any of the following heating sources be sure to:

  • Keep furnishings and other combustibles at least 36 inches from all heating sources.
  • When using portable heaters make sure you avoid using extension cords and keep them away from children or pets. Also, make sure to turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • With Fuel Burning appliances make sure, with the use of a battery, that the shut-off mechanism is working and fill your tank with fresh fuel. Let the heater cool down first because a hot heater can start a dangerous fire.
  • When using an indoor fireplace make sure to keep the fire to a smaller manageable size. Keep your chimney flue clear, clean and annually inspected. You also want to reduce the amount of ash build up.

For more safety tips visit the Dept. of Homeland Security website.

Another reason for home fires in the winter is the use of candles. When winter weather becomes severe, it may cause power outages. People who don't have power or even in some cases who can't pay their heating bills will use candles for heat. These obviously are open flames within your dwelling. Make sure to properly monitor and extinguish any candles you may use. Winter is filled with great things like Christmas, Family, and a New Year. You don't want to ruin the holidays or start your year off with property damage or death. Be preventative and make sure all smoke detectors are working properly and always have an evacuation plan.