Did You Know?
In the winter, structure fires increase, although total fires decrease. A substantial portion of the structure fire increase is due to heating fires. In an average year, heating is the cause of 17 percent of structure fires; however, during the winter, heating fires jump to 27 percent of structure fires. Heating fires are concentrated in late fall through mid-winter (December–February), during winter holidays and the coldest months. Since colder temperatures result in longer operating times for heating equipment, there is more opportunity for that equipment to cause a fire.
Wood Stove and Fireplaces
- Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
- Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
- Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
- If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Candle Care –– Using Lit Candles
- If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.
- Never leave the house with candles burning.Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
- Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.