Winter may be cold, but it is not a guarantee that you and your loved ones will be safe from house fires. In fact, during the cold months, house fires occur most often.
As people spend more time indoors to escape the freezing cold, they use more household appliances. As a result, the risk of house fires increases.
House fires are destructive. They cause property damage amounting to thousands of dollars. Moreover, they are deadly. On average, around 2,000 people die of house fires each year, and 11,025 more sustain non-fatal injuries.
But unlike natural disasters, house fires are preventable. Homeowners should know the risks they face and the steps they can take to prevent them. Here are the household appliances that can cause house fires during winter.
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Your dryer is a fire risk throughout the year, including during winter.
As the weather grows colder, you may find yourself doing laundry more often because every member of the household is wearing multiple layers of clothing to keep warm. That may lead to a fast build-up of lint that, mixed with hot air, can lead to a house fire.
Dryer lint is one of the most common causes of a house fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 2,900 dryer fires are reported annually, causing $35 million in property loss. A significant number of these house fires occur during fall and winter.
Experts recommend cleaning the lint screen regularly, preferably after every load, to prevent accumulation. Homeowners should also clean the dryer duct at least once a year.
People naturally use heating systems to maintain a comfortable temperature inside their homes during the colder months. However, these appliances can cause house fires.
In fact, heating and cooling appliances are the second most common cause of house fires. Those powered by fuel, such as kerosene, are the riskiest because they can ignite at any moment. However, electrical heaters can also catch on fire due to wiring problems or be placed near a combustible items like curtains. The furnace may overheat and cause a house fire due to a blocked air filter.
All heating systems should undergo maintenance and tuning before winter begins to lower the risk of house fires. Those who have a furnace can get it serviced to clean the air filter and check other parts for damage. Homeowners should also monitor their heating systems throughout winter so that they can detect if anything is amiss and prevent any event that may cause a house fire. Never leave the house with the heating system running.
Winter is a time for celebrations. Millions of Americans travel back to their hometowns every November and December to be with family. Every celebration requires food.
There is a lot more cooking done at home during the holidays and, unfortunately, it can increase the risk of house fires.
Cooking is one of the leading causes of house fires in the U.S. Moreover, there are up to three times more fires related to cooking reported on Thanksgiving Day compared to any other point of the year.
While cooking, never leave the stove running on its own. There should always be someone in the kitchen. That way, in case of fire, someone can intervene before it goes out of control. Moreover, anything combustible, such as paper towels and potholders, should be placed far away from the stove.
Christmas lights are staples during the holiday season. Every home is decorated with twinkling lights to herald holiday cheer.
But your Christmas lights can be a source of house fires.
The most common problem is electrical issues caused by using too many strands. Your Christmas lights can overload plugs and extension cords which may start a house fire. Using old strands is also dangerous because there is a possibility that the wiring has started to fray or there are bulbs that need replacing.
In addition, be careful to only use indoor string lights inside the house. It is not safe to use them outdoors because they are not designed to be resilient against environmental factors, particularly moisture from rain and snow. Not all Christmas lights can withstand wet and cold weather.
Plus, homeowners should unplug their lights before they sleep or leave the house. No one wants to go home with their house and all of their stuff burnt.
People do not normally think of house fires during winter, but it is quite common. The household appliances people use more often during the colder months can be fire risks if not used and maintained appropriately.
Read more: 4 Tips That Make Household Cleaning Simple