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Avoiding House Fires

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House fires are most prevalent during the winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), close to one-third of all total-loss house fires occur during the months of December, January, and February. Statistics show there is also a 1 in 10 chance that a house fire will injure someone.

Most house fires could have been easily prevented. A few reminders for preventing fires in the home:

Do not leave anything you are cooking unattended. Stovetop cooking is the number cause of house fires year-round. If you have to leave the house, turn everything off and make sure you don’t have any dishtowels, oven mitts, other flammable items anywhere near the stove or oven.

Do not overload a power outlet or extension cord by plugging too many things into it at once. You can tell a cord is overloaded by touching it to see if it feels warm. Also, do not run extension cords under rugs or staple them or tape them to walls or floors.

If you use a fireplace, make sure you put the fire out completely before leaving the house or going to sleep, and keep anything that is flammable at least 5 feet away from the fireplace. Empty any ashes into a metal container and store them separately from anything flammable for at least two weeks, because embers can smolder for as long as two weeks.

According to the NFPA, between 2009 and 2013, candles were the cause of 3% of household fires and 3% of household fire deaths. Burn candles on a stable surface, away from anything flammable, away from children and pets, and never leave a candle burning unattended.

Christmas trees are another fire-causing item. Do not use old bubble lights, which get extremely hot and can start a fire on a tree that is drying out, do not overload outlets, and the keep the tree away from any sources of open flame.

Space heaters are a leading cause of fires in the winter months. Ensure your space heater is at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, plug it directly into an outlet rather than an extension cord, and do not leave it on when you go to bed or leave the house.

Lastly, install and maintain smoke detectors throughout your home, know where your fire extinguishers are and how to use them, and plan an escape route in case a fire does start.

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