The 5 Most Common Causes of House Fires In Winter & Prevention Tips

by | Jan 17, 2020 | Headline News | 5 comments

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    This article was originally published by Sara Tipton at Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition. 

    Los Angeles Fire officials say they definitely see an increase in household fires during the holiday season, and there are four main causes. However, there are also solutions and things we can all do to minimize our risk of a fire this winter.

    Los Angeles Fire officials say they definitely see an increase in household fires during the holiday season, and there are five main causes. However, there are also solutions and things we can all do to minimize our risk of a fire this winter.

    5 Most Common Causes of House Fires In Winter

    1. Christmas Trees – lights on real Christmas trees can cause unexpected fires.  While the subtle glow is both warming and beautiful invoking happy memories, those lights can also be unsafe. To prevent a tree fire, first, make sure that you’ve given the tree enough water. If it dries out, it’ll be more susceptible to catching on fire.  You will also want to check all of your light strands for frayed wires before putting them on the tree. Also, remember to turn the Christmas tree lights off when you go to bed or leave your home. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled as “fire retardant.” You should also avoid placing your tree near a candle or a heat source.
    2. Candles – Lighting candles is relaxing and a great way to get a little aromatherapy in with the soothing ambient lighting. But candles are a common cause of fires during the winter months. In fact, some reports say that 15,000 house fires a year are caused by candles! To make fire less likely, make sure you extinguish the candle before leaving the home or going to bed.  If you can, get candles in a jar with a lid and use the lid when the candle is not lit. Blow out the candle and immediately put the lid on the jar. This will prevent any oxygen from getting in and keep the wick from smoldering. I actually love candles, but won’t burn one that isn’t in an unbroken jar with a lid. Don’t leave a candle unattended or let children play in the candle either. Never leave a lighter near the candle that a child could get their hands on. Take the time to put it away and out of their reach.
    3. Space Heaters – Many don’t think of space heaters as a potential problem. Portable space heaters are wonderful if you work in a cold office or if you need a little extra heat once in a while.  But they come with some fire risks. In order to mitigate those risks, make sure it’s at least turned off, if not completely unplugged when not in use. Don’t let children play with or near a space heater and keep the area around it clear. Another tip is not to plug in space heaters into power strips. Power strips are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow.
    4. Cooking – Most people cook year-round, but when making holiday food, there are often distractions that can lead to a problematic fire. Always double check to be sure you have turned off all burners and the oven when you’ve finished cooking. Never leave food cooking unattended. Just stay in the kitchen and make sure things are going the way they are supposed to be. Watch children carefully and at all times if they are anywhere near a stove that’s in use or has just been in use.  Kids are naturally curious and they could burn themselves severely and/or start a fire accidentally. Know how to properly extinguish a grease fire! Don’t toss water on it, as it’ll spread and likely make things worse.  You can use a pan lid, but glass lids can crack and break under the extreme heat, so it’s best to keep a fire extinguisher nearby any stove and learn how to use it!
    5. Chimney Fires – Regular chimney maintenance is encouraged for those with fireplaces and should be a regular part of winterizing your home. Whether you make a choice to have a professional clean it or decide to go the DIY route, it should be done before you plan on lighting that first fire. The reason being is it prevents the release of toxic gasses in your home. If you are using wood that contains excessive amounts of sap, consider cleaning it twice. If you fail to do so has been known to cause house fires and or property damage. Read more on chimney maintenance.

    How To Use a Fire Extinguisher

    Where I used to live, firefighters would teach you to use one for free, all you had to do was ask. If that isn’t the case in your area, watch the following video:

    You should also make sure to maintain your fire extinguisher so that it’s always in good working order. Know what to look for and how to tell if it’s gone bad so you can make sure it’s replaced.

    HELPFUL TIP: It’s always a good idea to know how to use a fire extinguisher!

    If you happen to have a fire that gets out of control quickly, call 911 and get out of the house.  Make sure everyone is accounted for and don’t go back inside unless you are told it’s safe to do so by firefighters. Fires can cause structural damage making your home unsafe, and it’s sometimes best to have the damage repaired before attempting to enter again.

    As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make good decisions when it comes to anything that could cause a fire and be sure you’re ready and know what to do if the unthinkable happens. Preparedness isn’t always just about the apocalypse.  We can add a dash of it to our everyday lives too! Stay safe this holiday season and have yourself a merry little Christmas, Ready Nutrition Readers!


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      1. A side note on fire extinguishers… do not buy the ones with plastic handles, only steel! They tend to leak over time, and cannot be legally refilled like the metal handled ones. Pay a little more and get reliable quality!

      2. The Chinese have “unbranded” items which appear to be made to the same exact specs, in the same factories, but without the labeling. Generic, aftermarket parts are interchangeable, and sometimes better than what was originally offered at major chain franchises.

        I have seen big businesses sell low quality with popular brands on there, because anyone could pay for the rights to a logo. These tackiest electronics — not counterfeits by a technicality — melt and smolder in the outlet.

        “Where I used to live, firefighters would teach you…”

        *My emphasis, below.
        “Historically, the concept of a virago reaches back into antiquity where Hellenistic philosophy asserted that elite and exceptionally heroic men had virtus (Greek: ἀνδρεία, romanized: andreia). Virtus (once again linked to vir, the brave man abiding by society’s highest values and ethics ***as opposed to homo, human being***) defined the traits of excellence for a man in ancient Rome (and Greece), including valor and heroism, but also morality and physical strength. Women and non-elite or unheroic men (slaves, servants, craftsmen, merchants) were considered a lesser category, and believed to be less excellent in Roman morality. A woman, however, if exceptional enough could earn the title virago. In doing so, she surpassed the expectations for what was believed possible for her gender, and embodied masculine-like aggression and/or excellence. Virago, then, was a title of respect and admiration. ”

        They have a praetorian swagger, here and now, as though you are a suspected criminal or second class citizen, subject to military chickenshit.

        It shows a failure of anarchism, that the 99% are tone deaf and color blind to independent alternatives for any of the Communist conveniences.

        Staying near a fire and police station, we used to walk antsy dogs to the sound of sirens, to see something freaky — like from the pathology book or gore website.

        But, I found it more disturbing, how npc’s could see smoke and fire in their immediate surroundings and jdgaf.

        If you have made any of these errors, above, if you have unwashed dishes in the sink, an unmade bed or look disheveled, first responders are judging the civilians, loudly, in front of God and everyone, and they call the police on you.

        Telling your fellow, ordinary ***human beings*** to run a tight ship and jump in the fray, sometimes, is not going to make you any more popular. So, anarchism cannot be the answer.

      3. Not sure, but I think CO poisoning is the number one killer.

        Have working CO detectors, running a range top for heat works great until O2 is depleted and the range makes CO instead of CO2. If you must, crack a window.

        I have a generator, a safe place to run it, with an air-lock space between the generator and the house. It’s placed on a side of the house where prevailing winds blow the exhaust away. We had a ten day power failure. One day the winds reversed. A CO detector went off. They were on the first circuit I brought up with my generator. We opened a few windows, vented the CO, and shut down the generator until the flag showed the wind shifted. We were fine, because we had a plan and were prepared.


      4. Chimney fires are serious. Chimflex is a product that looks and works like a highway flare. It can put out a chimney fire. Light and toss one into a fireplace and it can put out the fire.

        The only other way is to have the fire department use a fogger nozzle. Assuming they can get there in time to save your house.

        Mac, you should try to get Chimflex as an advertiser.

        My dad had a chimney fire in the new house he built. It burned like a freaking rocket engine. It had jet propelled flames that went thirty feet into the air. The fire dept arrived after it had already burned out. They said if this house ever had another, it likely wouldn’t survive.

        I bought a chimney cleaning kit. I clean it every two years and have a ChimFlex flare always ready. They really are cheap.

        There is no excuse for a chimney fire. I’ll be teaching my grandson how to clean a chimney this spring. And all about a ChimFlex.

        Note, one of the worst issues is converting from a heating oil furnace to natural gas or propane, including converting a fireplace to natural gas or propane. The new system burns very clean and the old system burned very dirty. The crap in the chimney dries out and it will ignite and burn ultimately. The simple solution, clean the Chimney. The alternative is you will have a chimney fire.

        Regardless have a Chimflex fire suppressor at the ready. They are incredibly cheap and compact.

      5. In theory, you can just anti-climatically close the flue, for free.

        In practice, some very-gentle acquaintance of mine had ‘Captain America’ carry the log rack through his house and wag a finger — thankfully, without breaking any car windows.

        It’s all a matter of which chain you want to yank.

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