Today's News / Facility Safety

Put a freeze on winter fires

November 17, 2011
KEYWORDS fires / nfpa / safety / usfa / winter
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Fires in U.S. decreasedWith home fires more prevalent in winter than in any other season, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are sponsoring a joint initiative – Put a Freeze on Winter Fires – to help raise public awareness about winter fires.

According to NFPA statistics, space heaters account for about one third of home heating fires and approximately 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths.

“These fires are a painful reminder of what we see every year – the temperatures drop and fires increase,” said NFPA President Jim Shannon.

The USFA’s Winter Residential Building Fires report indicates that each winter an estimated 108,400 residential building fires occur in the United States, resulting in 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss. Cooking is the leading cause of winter residential building fires at 36 percent, followed by heating at 23 percent. Winter residential building fires occur mainly in the early evening hours, peaking from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“The winter season brings the highest number of home fires, more than at any other time of year,” said USFA’s Deputy Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines. “Home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating. Winter storms can also interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources that contribute to the increased risk of fire during the winter months.”

The NFPA and USFA recommend following these safety tips to prevent winter home fires:

• Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food.
• Leep anything that can burn at least three feet away from each space heater.
• Check electrical cords often and replace cracked or damaged electrical or extension cords. Do not try to repair them.
• Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. They are not designed for this purpose and can be a fire hazard. In addition, carbon monoxide (CO) gas might kill people and pets.
• Do not leave a live Christmas tree up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
• Avoid using lighted candles.
• If you smoke, use only fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside.

More information about the causes of winter fires, winter storm fire safety and holiday fire safety is available at www.usfa.fema.gov/winter and the NFPA website: www.nfpa.org/winter.

About the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)

As an entity of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, the mission of the USFA is to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness, and response.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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