It’s the time of year for festive celebrations, filled with family and friends, home-cooked meals and sparkling lights. It’s also the time of year that West Metro Fire Rescue sees an increase in fires ignited by cooking, space heaters and candles.
Even a small fire can cause thousands of dollars of damage, not to mention the potential trauma of a family member being injured or the loss of a precious item or family heirloom. Identifying and lowering the risk of fire where you live will keep your family and your property safe during the holidays and all year round.
Cooking fires make up about 49 percent of all residential fires. And they most often start when people leave items in the oven or on the stove unattended. Our crews have even responded to kitchen fires where a pet accidently turned on a burner, igniting items that were sitting on the stovetop.
For the cook:
• Keep the area around the stove and oven free of towels, papers and potholders.
• When cooking, turn pot handles inward, facing the wall or the back of the stove to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills.
• Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves as long, loose sleeves can catch fire or get caught on pot handles.
• Enforce a kid- and pet-free zone of at least three feet around the stove when you’re cooking and don’t leave kids or four-legged family members unattended in the kitchen.
In Colorado, the holiday season typically means cold weather and snow. That’s when many people use space heaters to take the chill out of the air.
To stay warm and safe:
• Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
• Always plug them directly into the wall outlet – never use an extension cord.
• When you leave the room or go to bed, turn them off and unplug them.
Candles add a special touch to holiday celebrations, but they can easily start fires. The matches and lighters used to light candles are just as dangerous if left in a place where children can reach them.
• Keep candles at least four feet away from all combustibles, including curtains, blinds, bedding and upholstered furniture.
• If you leave the room or go to bed, make sure the candle is extinguished – never leave it unattended.
• We highly recommend using battery- or electric-powered candles.
Following these tips will help reduce the risk of a house fire, but the number one defense is having working smoke alarms and an escape plan, so you and your family know what to do if an emergency happens.
Find out about fire and home safety by visiting our website: westmetrofire.org
Ronda Scholting is Public Information Officer for West Metro Fire Rescue.