Nearly 150 people have already lost their lives to home fires in the United States this month. This is 24 more than were reported Jan. 1 – 16 of last year.
“As temperatures fall in January, February and March we usually see an increase in home fires,” says Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) Chief Russ Mason. “Cooking and home heating equipment are usually the culprits.”
CCFR has responded to seven structure fires since Jan. 1, which is three more than last year. Five of these were residential, while two were commercial, no lives have been lost.
Nationwide, many of this year’s fatal fires remain under investigation, but space heaters, candles and cooking are among the causes suspected in a number of these incidents, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
“The most alarming part of these fire deaths is that most of them are preventable,” says Mason. “Keeping anything that could catch fire at least three feet away from anything that generates heat, such as candles, stovetops and ovens, fireplaces and cigarettes, along with a having a working smoking detector in each room is a great first step to home fire prevention.”
Of the 148 people killed, 28 were children and 50 were older adults. Two Missourians, a 41 year-old woman from Kansas City and a 45 year-old man from Bell City were among the victims.
Winter home fire safety tips:
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food.
- Turn space heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Make sure all vents are clear of snow and ice to allow carbon monoxide to vent outside.
- Have your furnace, heating system and chimneys serviced each year by a qualified professional.
- Only use battery operated candles.
- Dispose of fireplace ashes and smoking materials in a metal trash can at least six feet away from the house.