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How to Prevent Winter Fires at Home


According to the U.S. Fire Administration, winter home fires, while accounting for only eight percent of all U.S. fires, account for nearly 30 percent (approximately 890 in total) of all fire deaths in a year. The better we understand the causes of winter fires in Texas, the more prepared we are to prevent them and the many deaths each year that occur as a result.

Most Common Causes of Winter House Fires

According to the U.S. Fire Administration statistics mentioned above, the most common cause of winter fires is cooking and the most common time for these fires to occur is between 5:00 and 8:00 pm. Other common causes of wintertime house fires include the following:

  • Burning candles In fact, the National Fire Protection Association goes on step further by stating that home candle fires are most common on the following days: December 25, December 31, and January 1, each winter.

  • Christmas Trees Real and artificial Christmas trees pose a risk of catching fire, though the risk is greater with real trees. That doesn’t mean homeowners are out of the woods with the artificial variety as the chemicals can cause larger flames when they do catch fire.

  • Heating Home heating is the second leading cause of house fires in winter with space heaters accounting for 40 percent of heating-related fires.

  • Smoking Throughout the year, smoking accounts for nearly 17,200 home fires each year, according to the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department in Sandy Spring, Maryland. With more people moving inside to smoke during cooler winter months, the number of home fires related to this unfortunate habit rise as the temperatures fall.

  • Extension Cords Whether from holiday lighting and decorations, heating your home, or general needs, extension cords can easily become overloaded creating a fire hazard within your home.

Now that you know the most common causes of winter home fires, it’s time to turn your attention toward preventing these fires.

Prevent Home Fires This Winter

There are many things you can do to prevent or greatly reduce your risk of home fires this winter. These steps are chief among them.

  • Never leave things cooking unattended in the kitchen.

  • Keep paper towels, potholders, and kitchen towels away from your stove at all times.

  • Keep your stove clean.

  • Extinguish all candles before going to sleep.

  • Make sure no flammable or combustible items are near open flames from candles or stoves. 

  • Never leave candles unattended.

  • Continue smoking outside your home no matter how low temperatures drop.

  • Keep lighters and matches away from children.

  • Replace Christmas tree lights with loose bulbs or frayed wiring.

  • Turn off Christmas lights before leaving your home or going to bed at night.

  • Keep live trees watered. 

  • Invest in yearly chimney sweeping before burning logs in your fireplace.

  • Don’t plug space heaters into extension cords or power strips.

  • Don’t place space heaters too close to (within three feet of) clothing, bedding, furniture, or mattresses.

  • Place space heaters on level surfaces away from children and pets that can knock it over.

  • Never use space heaters when they are unattended.

  • Use smoke detectors in your home and check batteries frequently to ensure they are good.

  • Avoid overloading extension cords with Christmas lights, holiday decorations, or even home appliances.

These simple steps can help prevent many of the most common causes of Mongomery County winter home fires. While there is no such thing as a fireproof home, preventative action can go a long way toward reducing your risks.

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