“Everything we own…” was lost during a simple trip to a grocery store for a Vinemont family this last Tuesday. The culprit? The fire appears to have been started by an electric heater located in their living room.
Unfortunately, we will be hearing or seeing more of these types of stories as winter starts to show itself. According to NFPA.org a fire broke out in a residence once every 78 seconds last year that directly resulted in over 2700 people lose their lives and causing over 8 billion dollars worth of damage. While some of these fires were set intentionally or are cooking related, let’s focus first on some general tips and then 5 of the typical wintertime causes & ways to avoid you becoming a statistic.
- A minimum distance of 3’ should be kept clear around and above all heat sources
- Make sure all fire detectors work in the house
- Never store flammable or combustible liquids in or near rooms with a heater or open flame
- All portable heaters should be turned off when no one is in the room or before going to bed
- Every house should have at least one carbon monoxide detector located near the bedrooms
- Never use a cooking appliance as a heating source
During the holiday’s, everyone seems to break out the candles, which is probably one reason that the top 5 days for fires started by candles in a year are; Halloween, Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s, and New Year’s Eve.
- Blow out candles when no one will be in the room, or before you go to bed
- Make sure you leave at least 12 inches of room around the candles, with nothing over the flame for at least 3 feet
- Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over
- NEVER light or have lit candles if someone uses Oxygen
- Make sure you get it cleaned by a certified professional yearly – www.ncsg.org, www.csia.org are two national organizations that certify chimney sweeps
Electric Space Heater:
- Make sure your existing heaters are UL listed, does not have a frayed cord, or a broken plug – if there are any issues buy a new UL listed one and throw the old one out
- Do not plug the heater into an overloaded circuit or extension card
Portable Kerosene Heaters
- Refuel the unit outside or in a well-ventilated area
- Always use the proper fuel and grade
- Only burn dry, well seasoned wood & do not try lighting the fire with charcoal lighter or gas
- Use the screen’s and doors to prevent embers, logs or sparks from the fire getting outside the fire box
- Make sure you get it cleaned by a certified professional yearly – www.ncsg.org, www.csia.org
- Use a metal shovel & bucket for removing the ash – never use a vacuum cleaner as there may still be embers still in there (yes even after 12 hours you can still have live embers)