Winter months are leading home fire months

fireCooking, heating, holiday decorations and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months.

The National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration are working to help reduce the risk of winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical fires, through education.

Half of home heating fires are reported between November and January; such fires are the leading cause of home fire-related deaths.

“It’s important to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating devices like furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves or portable heaters,” said Kevin Bartal, safety coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau.

Keep a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters to keep children safe. Also, never use an oven to heat a home, even during a power failure.

“It’s important to have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by professionals each year before the weather turns cold,” Bartal said.

Some people leave their Christmas trees up longer than others, and it’s important to remember that when those trees dry out they can catch fire and burn quickly. Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur they’re much more likely to be deadly than other fires, according to NFPA.

Candles, another holiday and winter decorative element, were the cause of nearly 9,300 U.S. home structure fires between 2009 and 2013. Falling asleep and leaving a candle burning is the leading cause of a such fires; roughly one-third of candle fires start in bedrooms, and more than half occur when a candle is left burning too close to a combustible item.

For more information on home fire prevention, visit nfpa.org.

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