Learn how to identify fire hazards and help prevent winter fires.
More home fires occur during the winter than any other season, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The most common culprits are kitchen implements, heating equipment, Christmas trees, candles, and holiday decorations. Learn how to prevent fire hazards in each of these areas with the following tips:
- Never leave the kitchen while the stovetop is on.
- Always use a timer. Turn off the heating element before turning off the timer.
- Secure loose clothing and hair while cooking.
- Keep flammable items — such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, dishcloths, food packaging, and paper products — away from the stove.
- Be cautious when cooking with oil. If you smell smoke, turn off the burner.
- Keep a lid beside your stove to help smother small grease fires.
- Wipe off your stove after every use to avoid grease buildup, which can fuel fires.
- Have a professional inspect and clean your heating equipment annually.
- Keep kids and flammable objects at least 3 feet away from heating sources.
- Place space heaters on a level, nonflammable surface. Never power the appliance with extension cords or power strips.
- Turn off space heaters before leaving rooms that have them.
- Regularly inspect the walls near the furnace or chimney — if the wall is hot or discolored, you may need additional insulation.
- Always use a glass or metal screen in front of a wood-burning fireplace.
- Review your home for signs of faulty or failing wiring.
- Replace missing or broken wall plates on outlets.
- Inspect cords on all appliances — replace any with frayed or damaged wires.
- Only buy electrical products approved by a nationally recognized safety laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Never force a plug into an outlet or remove a prong.
- Use extension cords only temporarily.
- Check that lightbulbs meet each fixture’s requirements.
- Make sure ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are installed in rooms with water hookups — such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and basement — and test them monthly.