By JEN SLAYDEN
Happy February! It is the month of LOVE, but we don’t want things getting too hot hot hot!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the winter months of December, January and February see a higher percentage of residential fires.
Check out these alarming statistics out from the U.S. Fire Administration:
- 905 people die in winter home fires each year.
- $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.
- 67 percent of winter fires occur in one- and two-family homes.
- Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires.
- 5 to 8 p.m. is the most common time for winter home fires.
Source: National Fire Incident Reporting System 2009-2011
Take a little time to learn what YOU can do to keep your home warm and toasty, while keeping yourself and your family safe during these cold winter months.
- Hopefully, your eyes are bigger than your stomach! That way, you can keep your eyes wide open while cooking, to eliminate the leading cause of those winter home fires. Ironically, I was writing this morning with the tea kettle on, and I forgot to put the whistle top on. I got distracted. By the time I realized something was smelly, the tea kettle was dried out and red hot angry! I learned it didn’t take long, and it won’t happen again! Also, it is okay to be a little obsessed about double checking that the stove is turned off after meals (and tea) prep!
- The second leading cause of home fires is heating sources. A modern electric portable heater is a good investment, especially if it has an automatic shut-off when it is tipped over. Make sure and keep portable heaters a safe distance from any flammable materials. The NFPA recommends three feet.
If you do have a wood stove, make sure to cover the ashes in a fire safe container, and keep the ashes outside the house a safe distance away. We put ours in the snowbank!
- Have a carbon monoxide detector in the home, and make sure your fire alarms have fresh batteries. This takes just a little time and can make a big difference!
- Review and print this Fire and Life Safety sheet from Missoula Rural Fire District.
- If you are a parent, talk to your children about fire safety. Have a planned escape route and practice. Here is a printable from the U.S. Fire Administration that is fun and educational for kids.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
So, enjoy the warmth and fire, as Sitwell quotes, but do it safely!
What other tips and advice do you have for keeping your home safe from fire in the winter months? Comment below. And stay tuned in a few weeks for Love your house month: INSIDE/OUT
Jen Slayden wears many hats: Mother, Real Estate Agent with Main Street Realty, teacher for the non profit music program Center for Music, UM alumni, runner, and supporter of all things local. Her RealChange program dedicates a generous amount of her Real Estate commissions to be given back locally to organizations of her client’s choice. You can find her on Facebook, or give her a call at 406-370-0300.