Why Are Residential Fires Common During Winter?

Fires are very common during winter, specifically during the months of December, January and February; and the top cause is heating. When it’s cold, people often use their heating systems, light candles or fireplaces, or turn on colorful lights. When winter fires occur, there are also more fatalities since there are more incidences of fire accidents and because there are more people in their homes who gather together for Christmas and other special winter occasions. Therefore, residents are encouraged to be more attentive as regards safety during winter months.

General Safety Measures

Below are a few general safety precautions. Because safety always starts with prevention, residents are encouraged to be always aware and to check their surroundings regularly for any potential threats.

– Each home should really have a fire extinguisher on hand. It’s quite simple to operate a fire extinguisher. Just pull the pin, aim the nozzle and squeeze the trigger. The nozzle should be pointed at the base of the blaze.
Tip: When selecting a fire extinguisher, opt for one with an ABC rating. These are the multi-purpose extinguishers that can stop fires caused by a number of materials, such as paper, cloth, combustible fluids, as well as electrical short circuits. Foams released by ABC extinguishers may cause permanent damage to electrical equipment.

– It is also important to have smoke alarms as part of a home security system. These alarms can detect smoke during the early stages of fires so that homeowners will be able to deal with fire accidents before the fire spreads and becomes uncontrollable.

– When using heating systems, like furnaces, kerosene heaters or wood stoves and fireplaces, it’s vital to follow instructions and recommended safety precautions.

– Lighted candles should also be carefully watched. Matches and other igniters should be kept away from children.

– Carbon monoxide poisoning is also quite common because there are people who open their ovens that they use as heaters. This is not recommended. Synthetic logs also release a significant amount of CO2. This is why splitting logs to encourage flames is not a good idea as this also produces more of the harmful gas.

– Residents should also plan for fire disasters. They should make fire escape plans. It is also a must to check exit points to see if these are blocked by thick layers of snow.

Firefighters and Emergency Response Teams (ERTs)

During winter, there is more strain on firefighters and ERTs, also known as incident response teams. Weather conditions and environments are harsher not only on people, but on equipment as well. Firefighters, for instance, not only have to battle fires, but the cold as well. Working in extremely cold weather places them in danger of hypothermia. Ice-covered paths and ladders also increase slipping and falling accidents.

As for equipment, these can fail to function due to cold conditions. Water can freeze inside hoses, which means that it cannot be used to put out fires. Frozen water inside hoses will also make it difficult or impossible to fold or move the hose around. When auxiliary machines for firefighting are exposed to very cold weather, these could freeze or break down. Thus, response time of firefighters, as well as ERTs, will be delayed. Due to delays, fires could spread before these are stopped.


Claire Lassiter is a freelance writer and she specializes in home security. She also writes for several Dalworth fire and water damage restoration companies.

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