Home Fire Deaths on the Rise this Winter
Home fire deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Home fire deaths are on the rise for this time of the year, while cooking and heating remain the primary causes, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
Already, home fires have resulted in 149 deaths this month, which is 24 more than was reported at this same time in 2012, according to USFA. However, what remains the same are the most common causes for home fires, as USFA notes that space heaters, candles and cooking are reoccurring causes.
Home fires occur the most often in January, February and March. Meanwhile, home fires cause billions of dollars worth of damage and injure more than 18,300 people in the U.S. each year.
While cold weather grips residents throughout the country, reduce your own risks of a home fire this winter by using the following guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Afterwards, find more details in the IBHS Alternative Heating Sources guide.
- Maintain at least a 36-inch clearance between the stove and combustible materials, such as furniture and clothing.
- Prior to using the stove, place a layer of sand or firebrick in the bottom of the firebox.
- Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
- Do not leave a heater unattended.
- Electric heaters should be inspected prior to use. Check the cord for fraying, cracking and look for broken wires or signs of overheating in the device itself.
- Use only heavy-duty extension cords marked with a No. 14 gauge or larger wire.
- If the heater plug has a grounding prong, use only a grounding (three wire) extension cord.
- Never run the heater cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.
- Liquid Fuel-Powered Devices (kerosene or oilheat)
- Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel.
- Allow the heater to cool down prior to refueling.
- Regular cleaning will keep the fireplace free of obstructions and creosote. If you haven’t had maintenance performed recently, use caution when operating the fireplace and never leave it unattended.
- Make sure the damper is open.
- Before use, inspect the chimney and fireplace area for debris and animals that could have taken up residence.
- Maintain proper clearance around the fireplace and keep it clear of combustible materials such as books,
- newspapers and furniture.
- Always close the screen when in use.
- Keep glass doors open during the fire.
- Use a fireplace grate.
- Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
- Avoid using gasoline or any liquid accelerant.
- Clean out ashes from previous fires and store them in a noncombustible container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep
- the container outside and away from the house.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before closing the damper.
- Adjust the milli-volt output.
- Keep the glowing embers and logs clean.
- Inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan.
- Clean the glass as needed. Avoid obstructing the vents.
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety