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The 5 Most Common Causes of House Fires In Winter & Prevention Tips

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During the holiday season, house fires are more common. There are many reasons for this, but there are a few ways to prevent the fires and things you can do to make your home safer.

Los Angeles Fire officials say they definitely see an increase in household fires during the holiday season, and there are five main causes. However, there are also solutions and things we can all do to minimize our risk of a fire this winter.

5 Most Common Causes of House Fires In Winter

    1. Christmas Trees – lights on real Christmas trees can cause unexpected fires.  While the subtle glow is both warming and beautiful invoking happy memories, those lights can also be unsafe. To prevent a tree fire, first, make sure that you’ve given the tree enough water. If it dries out, it’ll be more susceptible to catching on fire.  You will also want to check all of your light strands for frayed wires before putting them on the tree. Also, remember to turn the Christmas tree lights off when you go to bed or leave your home. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled as “fire retardant.” You should also avoid placing your tree near a candle or a heat source.
    2. Candles – Lighting candles is relaxing and a great way to get a little aromatherapy in with the soothing ambient lighting. But candles are a common cause of fires during the winter months. In fact, some reports say that 15,000 house fires a year are caused by candles! To make fire less likely, make sure you extinguish the candle before leaving the home or going to bed.  If you can, get candles in a jar with a lid and use the lid when the candle is not lit. Blow out the candle and immediately put the lid on the jar. This will prevent any oxygen from getting in and keep the wick from smoldering. I actually love candles, but won’t burn one that isn’t in an unbroken jar with a lid. Don’t leave a candle unattended or let children play in the candle either. Never leave a lighter near the candle that a child could get their hands on. Take the time to put it away and out of their reach.
    3. Space Heaters – Many don’t think of space heaters as a potential problem. Portable space heaters are wonderful if you work in a cold office or if you need a little extra heat once in a while.  But they come with some fire risks. In order to mitigate those risks, make sure it’s at least turned off, if not completely unplugged when not in use. Don’t let children play with or near a space heater and keep the area around it clear. Another tip is not to plug in space heaters into power strips. Power strips are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow.
    4. Cooking – Most people cook year-round, but when making holiday food, there are often distractions that can lead to a problematic fire. Always double check to be sure you have turned off all burners and the oven when you’ve finished cooking. Never leave food cooking unattended. Just stay in the kitchen and make sure things are going the way they are supposed to be. Watch children carefully and at all times if they are anywhere near a stove that’s in use or has just been in use.  Kids are naturally curious and they could burn themselves severely and/or start a fire accidentally. Know how to properly extinguish a grease fire! Don’t toss water on it, as it’ll spread and likely make things worse.  You can use a pan lid, but glass lids can crack and break under the extreme heat, so it’s best to keep a fire extinguisher nearby any stove and learn how to use it!
    5. Chimney Fires – Regular chimney maintenance is encouraged for those with fireplaces and should be a regular part of winterizing your home. Whether you make a choice to have a professional clean it or decide to go the DIY route, it should be done before you plan on lighting that first fire. The reason being is it prevents the release of toxic gasses in your home. If you are using wood that contains excessive amounts of sap, consider cleaning it twice. If you fail to do so has been known to cause house fires and or property damage. Read more on chimney maintenance.

How To Use a Fire Extinguisher

Where I used to live, firefighters would teach you to use one for free, all you had to do was ask. If that isn’t the case in your area, watch the following video:

You should also make sure to maintain your fire extinguisher so that it’s always in good working order. Know what to look for and how to tell if it’s gone bad so you can make sure it’s replaced.

HELPFUL TIP: It’s always a good idea to know how to use a fire extinguisher!

If you happen to have a fire that gets out of control quickly, call 911 and get out of the house.  Make sure everyone is accounted for and don’t go back inside unless you are told it’s safe to do so by firefighters. Fires can cause structural damage making your home unsafe, and it’s sometimes best to have the damage repaired before attempting to enter again.

As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make good decisions when it comes to anything that could cause a fire and be sure you’re ready and know what to do if the unthinkable happens. Preparedness isn’t always just about the apocalypse.  We can add a dash of it to our everyday lives too! Stay safe this holiday season and have yourself a merry little Christmas, Ready Nutrition Readers!


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