A Report from Station 54

Put a freeze on winter fires — more fires occur in December, January and February

— According to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration the winter is the leading time of year for home fires in the United States. That’s why the NFPA and USFA are working collaboratively to tell the public about ways to stay fire-safe this winter. The effort targets home heating and cooking, which represent the two leading causes of U.S. home fires during the cold winter months, especially during the early evening hours of 5 to 8 p.m.

According to a recent NFPA report, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 57,100 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 490 civilian deaths, 1,530 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage in 2010. As in previous years, space heaters account for about one third of home heating fires and approximately 80 percent of associated fire deaths.

NFPA and USFA recommend these safety tips to prevent winter home fires:

—Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period, turn off the stove.

—Space heaters need space; keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from each heater.

—Check electrical cords often and replace cracked or damaged electrical or extension cords. Do not try to repair them.

—Never use your oven or stove top to heat your home. They are not designed for this purpose and can be a fire hazard. In addition, carbon monoxide gas might kill people and pets.

—Do not put your live Christmas tree up too early, and take it down before it dries out. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times and place the tree at least three feet from any heating source.

—Select the new “flameless” candles that operate by battery to bring the look and scent of real candles to your home. If you must use burning candles, place them in sturdy candleholders that won’t burn.

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