house on fire

Before You Celebrate, Keep Your Home Safe from Fires This Winter

Winter can make Utah a wonderland: snow-capped mountains, chilly air, stores lined with the latest goodies, ugly sweaters, and delicious food.

Even the pandemic is less likely to cancel the holidays. Families hunkering down are still going to celebrate, watch their favorite Christmas movies, and exchange gifts.

However, before everyone becomes too busy to make this year’s winter memorable, parents should consider calling for electric repair. Home fires are extremely common around this time.

What’s the Cause?

While fires can occur anytime—and in Utah, wildfires can happen a lot—they become more frequent during the winter, according to the US Fire Administration. The following can explain why:

1. Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are harmless until you decorate them with lights and plug them in. A short circuit, for example, is enough to burn down organic material and set fire to the rest of the house.

In fact, annually, US fire departments will respond to over 150 homes whose fires started with their Christmas tree. In 22% of these cases, the tree is close to a heating source such as a candle.

More than 40% of the incidents involved lighting equipment or electrical distribution. Further, about 15% of these fires are intentional.

2. Heating Equipment

In Utah, winter temperatures can drop slightly below freezing. It isn’t surprising most homes are aggressive in using their heaters, more so when people have to spend a lot of time indoors this year.

But the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shared that 1 in every 7 home fires involve heating equipment. The risks seem higher for homes that still use wood in their fireplaces.

3. Cooking

Around 40% of home fires begin in the kitchen while someone is cooking food. Meanwhile, Tufts University shared that a whopping 118,000 fires involved cooking equipment.

Kitchen fires often happen when electricity is overloaded. For example, they plug too many appliances simultaneously. Keep in mind that most pieces of kitchen equipment need or generate heat. Think of a Dutch oven, microwave oven, toaster, and coffeemaker.

They also happen when someone leaves cooking unattended. They may become too busy to forget about the roasted turkey in the oven.

stove fire

How to Minimize the Risk of Home Fires

The first step is to get a repair specialist. Not only do they fix problems, but they can also spot issues before they get worse. Experts also strongly recommend having an electrician check the wires at least once a year.

Homes may also need to invest in smoke alarms. These nifty devices have saved countless lives over the last 30 years. They could decrease the risk of death by as much as 50%. Moreover, nearly 75% of deaths in home fires occurred in properties with no smoking alarm.

But it’s equally essential to ensure these alarms are working. On the TV show This Is Us, one of the beloved fictional characters died after inhaling a lot of smoke. He could have avoided it, though, if they had changed the batteries of their smoke alarm.

The NFPA also shares plenty of tips to keep your home safe this season:

  • Put only one heat-producing appliance to the wall at a time.
  • Don’t use extension cords to operate a heat-generating appliance, particularly a heater.
  • Keep flammable objects at least three feet away from the plug. That includes curtains and plants.
  • Avoid using candles on Christmas trees if you have children and pets.
  • Clean the chimney at least once a year. Cooled ashes need to be at least 10 feet away from the house and stored in a metal container.

Don’t let home fires ruin the holidays, make you homeless, or worse kill your loved ones. Pay more attention to these potential disasters this winter.

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Happy Knits is a community of parents sharing their tips for better parenting. We include parents of all ages, walks of life, and backgrounds.

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