Fire Injuries Increase In New Hampshire | State Fire Marshal Issues Fire Prevention Tips

Cold weather signals the beginning of the holiday season. Unfortunately, it also kicks off a dangerous time for homeowners- Fire season.

New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, Bill Degnan, is asking everyone to do their best to prevent home fires during the winter months.

"Cold weather causes a higher fire threat due to increased uses of heating sources, such as electrical space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. This, coupled with increased cooking activity, the use of extra holiday lights, candles and other decorations, pose an even greater threat for fires and fire deaths," said Degnan.

From the mid October to mid December 16 people have died in fires in New Hampshire. In addition, two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide injuries and deaths increase as people bring portable heating units into their houses during power outages or for additional warmth.

In New Hampshire, fire deaths spike during the holiday season. The months of November through February see the bulk of the year's fire deaths and injuries. Fires are most often caused by heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces. In addition, using Christmas decorations such as lights and candles contributes to accidental fires.

Statistics from The National Fire Protection Association show that 150 deaths and more than 1,200 injuries were caused by candles last year.

Late last week crews battled house fires in Plymouth, Hudson and Conway. Though nobody was injured, the fires highlight the severity of winter fire problems. These fires were believed to be caused by a wood stove, an electrical malfunction and a chimney.

State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan recently addressed the problem by releasing a list of winter safety tips. The following are a summary of the tips. They are meant to help the public prevent dangerous and often deadly fires.

  • Only use the type of fuel listed for an appliance. Despite the falling cost of gas, you should never use it in fuel oil tanks. Gasoline is more volatile than fuel oil and can cause an explosion and fire.
  • Heating appliances should be serviced every year by a trained technician. This tip will not only keep your family safe, it may reduce your energy bill as well.
  • Furnaces and other heating appliances must be installed according to the manufacturers' instructions and the state fire code.
  • Do not plug electric space heaters into extension cords or power strips. Keep furniture and draperies at least 36 inches from the heater.
  • As a rule of thumb, provide 36 inches of clearance between a wood heating appliance and any combustible surface or material.
  • Ask your local fire department to inspect your chimney and heating system to ensure that they meet fire safety codes.
  • Use only dry, seasoned hardwood. Consult local fire officials for advice on proper wood burning.
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home. Check smoke detectors at least once a month.
  • Install at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice family fire drills.
  • Coals in a pile of wood ashes can stay live for many days. Store wood ashes in a covered metal container set on a dirt or concrete surface at least 36 inches from any combustible surface or materials.

With your help we can all work to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries this holiday season.


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