Common Causes of House Fires
What season is common for house fires? While a devastating fire can occur at any time, more home fires happen during the winter, especially during the holiday season. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, winter fires result in more than 900 deaths and $2 billion in property damage each year. And many of these blazes could have been prevented if the property owners had taken the appropriate precautions.
Common Causes of House Fires in Winter
Did you know cooking is the most common cause of house fires during the winter months? People tend to bake more over the Christmas holidays, which can lead to people leaving food unattended in the oven. And in the colder climates, folks tend to do most or all their cooking indoors instead of on the backyard grill.
Other leading causes of winter house fires include:
- Improper Use of Portable Space Heaters: Many homeowners rely on portable space heaters to supplement their HVAC system or keep colder areas of the residence warm. To avoid a space heater-related house fire, never leave the unit unattended and don’t let it run overnight. Keep at least three feet between the heater and other objects, and teach young children to stay away from it. Purchase a heating unit that will shut off automatically if it gets too hot.
- Malfunctioning Heating Systems: Poorly maintained furnaces cause overheating, which can lead to a fire. Have your furnace or HVAC unit professionally inspected every year in the fall before the cold weather arrives. Replace your system’s filter at least once a month during the peak of the winter home fire season. You should upgrade your heating system every 10 to 15 years, depending on the type of unit.
- Holiday Decorations: The holiday season is the time we ramp up our use of electrical lighting. This can overload electrical outlets and possibly cause a house fire. Many of us also use candles to create a more inviting environment throughout the home during the colder months. Make judicious use of Christmas lights and other electrically powered ornamentation and keep extension cords out of harm’s way — never run them underneath rugs or carpeting. And, of course, never leave burning candles unattended.
- Dirty Chimneys: There nothing quite like a fireplace to provide a warm, cozy ambiance on a chilly winter night. But a wood-burning fireplace will cause a highly flammable material called creosote to accumulate inside the chimney’s liner, which can be a significant fire hazard. An annual chimney inspection and cleaning can remove the creosote building and ensure your chimney and fireplace are safe to use throughout the winter.
- Frayed Power Cords: The shorter days of winter lead us to use our lighting and household appliances more often. Frayed or worn power cords increase the risk of an electrical fire during the winter months. Be sure to inspect the cords and replace them if necessary.
Learn More About Fire Alarm Systems
- How To Fireproof Your Decorations
- How To Teach Your Kids About Fire Safety
- Most Common Causes Of Home Fires
Updated by Titan Alarm on November 5, 2018.