Be Fire Smart This Winter

January 11th, 2022


In one of the deadliest blazes in New York City’s history, 19 people died last weekend in a horrific apartment fire in the Bronx. 9 of the fatalities were kids 16 and under. Fire investigators believe the blaze was started by an electric space heater. The tragedy came a few days after another terrible fire in Philadelphia in a crowded, multifamily rowhouse that killed 12, including 8 children. Investigators there say a young child playing with a lighter near a Christmas tree may have sparked that fire.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, home fires occur most frequently in winter compared to other seasons. Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all increase the risk of residential fires during the winter months. There are about 45,000 electrical fires each year, making them the leading cause of all home fires in the U.S.:

Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.


NFPA urges homeowners to be “fire smart with electricity in your home” by plugging only one heat-producing appliance directly into a wall outlet at a time. Avoid using an extension cord for heat-producing appliances like space heaters.

Heating equipment used during the cold months is another important contributor to home fires:

Heating is the second leading cause of US home fires and home fire injuries and third leading cause of home fire deaths. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two of every five fires (44%), as well as the vast majority of deaths and injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment.


Do you like to light candles in your home?

Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.  Christmas is the peak day for candle fires. Each year between 2015-2019, an average of 7,400 home candle fires were reported each year.


NFPA offers this helpful advice to “put a freeze on winter fires” and stay safe and keep warm during these cold winter months:

• Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

• Never use your oven to heat your home

• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

• Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

• Install and maintain CO [carbon monoxide] alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.

Take more fire prevention action by visiting the National Fire Prevention Association website here.


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