Colder weather generally means spending more time inside, resulting in a greater need for heat and home-cooked meals. The added time indoors is thought to be the reason why home fires peak during the winter months. Of course, fires can happen at any time and it is estimated that the U.S. sees more than 2,500 deaths and 12,600 injuries annually in home fires, with direct property losses of $7.3 billion.
Fire spreads quickly, and it doesn’t help that so many houses are constructed from or decorated with flammable materials. A small flame can get out of control in less than a minute, using up essential oxygen while producing deadly smoke and poisonous gases.
The National Fire Protection Association investigated home structure fires over a four-year period and determined that cooking equipment was the leading cause of fires and of injuries. The second most common cause was found to be heating equipment. Most home fire deaths were caused by smoking materials. Other causes included electrical equipment, clothes dryers, candles, and children playing with matches or lighters. While only seven percent of the reported fires started in the bedroom, one-quarter of the deaths were caused by fires that started there. Another quarter of the deaths were caused by fires originating in the living room, family room, or den. Tragically, three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires where smoke alarms were inoperable or not present at all.
There are a few ways you can help protect your family and your home from fire:
- Have working smoke detectors on every floor of your home. Test monthly.
- Develop and practice fire escape drills with your family.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Never leave cooking food or a burning candle unattended.
- Don’t throw water on a grease fire (cover it with a lid instead).
- Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and wood stoves.
- Use only space heaters that are UL listed and have tip-over protection.
- Clean out the dryer lint tray after every load.
- Clean out the dryer vent once a year.
- Avoid extension cords.
- Teach children that fire is a tool, not a toy, and keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
- If you have a fireplace, store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container at least ten feet away from any structures.
- If you smoke, smoke outside and absolutely never in bed.
If you have been injured or suffered property damage in a fire that may have been caused by a malfunctioning product, the Macon, GA-based Mann Law Firm can help. We have successfully represented home fire victims throughout Georgia and are also experienced in taking on insurance companies who give policyholders trouble over fire loss claims. For over 50 years, we have been helping people put their lives back on track. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call us at 1-855-507-7598 or submit our online form.