Winter is the time of year where home fires are more prevalent and the Elgin Fire Department is offering residents some tips on how to stay safe this season.
“Winter storms can sometimes interrupt heating and electric service and oftentimes people attempt to heat their homes using alternative means increasing the risk of fire,” explained Elgin Fire Chief John Fahy. “But cooking and additional heating during the winter months can also increase the risk of fire.”
The US Fire Administration (USFA) reports that each winter an estimated 108,400 residential building fires occur in the United States, resulting in 945 death, 3,825 injuries and about $1.7 billion in property loss. Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires followed by heating. Space heaters account for about one third of home heating fires and about 80 percent of home heating fire deaths.
Fahy recommends the following to keep you and your family safe this season:
• Stay in the kitchen when cooking. Anytime you’re using the stove to fry, grill or broil food, remain in the kitchen. If you must leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
• Give a space heater some space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a space heater.
• Check electrical cords. Replace cracked or damaged electrical or extension cords. Do not repair them.
• Don’t use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. These can be a fire hazard since they weren’t designed to heat a home and the carbon monoxide gas emitted from them may kill people or pets.
• Don’t put up a live Christmas tree too early. Live Christmas trees should not be up longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
• Avoid using lighted candles. If you use candles, place them in a sturdy candleholder that won’t burn.
• If you smoke…use fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside.
“Prevention is key,” said Fahy. “Most fires are preventable.”
For more information about fire safety, go to the USFA website at www.usfa.fema.gov/winter or visit the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org/winter.