Winter season has highest number of fires; here’s how to stay safe

Winter fire prevention

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The National Fire Protection Association says the season that sees the highest number of fires is winter.

In Sarasota County, Fire Battalion Chief, Travis Dagenais, said the most fires they see this time of year start in the kitchen. He said that's because more people cook this time of year. Dagenais recommends keeping a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.

If a grease fire starts in the kitchen, don’t use water to put it out. That will only make the fire worse. Instead, pour baking soda on it or cover the pan with a lid. Covering the pan with a lid will prevent oxygen from getting in.

More than half of house fires in the U.S. during the month of December are caused by candles that are unattended or forgotten about. Try using a fake candle instead.

Holiday decorations, like Christmas trees and Christmas lights are also known to start fires. Keep Christmas trees at least three feet away from any heat source. Also don’t go overboard with lights.

“We tend to overload our electrical system sometimes when there is people who set up lights over the holiday season. So we want to make sure that we’re not using too many extension cords, not plugging extension cords into extension cords, or overloading power strips. Which can lead to fire hazards,” Dagenais said.

Winter brings cooler temps, which means people are starting to use space heaters. When using them, make sure they are not too close to bedding materials, drapes, or linens. When buying a space heater, double check to see that it is made for indoor use. Outdoor space heaters burn propane, which could emit carbon monoxide.

If someone is turning on their heat for the first time this season, they may smell something burning, which could set off smoke alarms. But Dagenais said that this typically happens, "Those heat strips get warm and they'll burn off that dust so we may notice a burning smell coming from our AC unit. So if we haven't had those inspected in awhile, you may smell a dust or a smoke smell coming off of those, but typically it's harmless."

But, if the smell continues days after, contact the heating company to get it checked out.

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