As temperatures go down, thermostats go up and families gather for the holidays, now is the time to consider a fire prevention plan for your home.
During the colder months last year, Maryland saw a total of 1,435 fires due to various heat sources such as appliances, candles and chimney ashes, according to State Fire Marshal spokesperson Bruce D. Bouch.
Here are some tips from fire officials on how to stay safe:
- Kitchen fires are one of the most common causes of house fires. Homeowners should avoid cooking while distracted, and should never walk away in the middle of meal prep. Be sure to keep flammable objects, such as oven mitts and towels, away from open flames, and keep kids and pets away from hot stoves.
- Grease fires should never be extinguished with water. Remember to place the lid over a pan to extinguish a blaze, and turn handles inward while on the stove to prevent spills.
- Space heaters should be kept at least 3 to 5 feet away from any flammable materials. Never leave the heater unattended, and remember to unplug it when not in use.
- Electrical fires are the second leading cause of home fires, according to Baltimore City Fire spokesperson Sam Johnson. Overloaded extension cords or electrical outlets generate heat, which can increase the chance of fire. The Montgomery County Fire Department also urges homeowners to avoid putting extension cords underneath furniture and rugs, and never try to plug two extension cords together to make them longer.
- Check to make sure all smoke alarms are working properly and check all manufacturer recalls. After 10 years, all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced. The State Fire Marshall also says it’s important to make sure house guests know of all possible exits in your home when visiting.
- If you’re staying warm by the fire, make sure your ashes cool for several days, if possible. Be cautious when disposing of ashes.