The holiday season is widely considered a time for fun and family gatherings although the potential for residential fires is a concern for area firefighters.
Nearly half of all residential fires nationally occur during the months of December, January and February. Nationally, 500 deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries are related to December fires alone.
One of the leading causes of home fires is misuse of extension cords and the use of space heaters as the primary source of heat in residences.
Extension cords are frequently used to light and connect Christmas decorations both the inside and outside of homes. An overloaded extension cord is a fire hazard waiting to happen and dangers are compounded by high energy drawing space heaters and or multiple electric items connected to a single power cord.
As temperatures drop, an alarming number of families turn to small space heaters as a means to keep warm and use extension cords to help power them. Space heaters come in various sizes and styles, regardless, they should not be left unattended or placed near furniture or other combustible items. More importantly, space heaters should never be used as the primary source of heat in a residence or apartment. Stoves and ovens should also not be used to heat homes.
If space heaters are used they should be UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed and they should be plugged directly into a wall or floor outlet, as they require more energy than lamps and most extension cords are unable to safely handle the amount of current necessary over a prolonged period of time.
According to firefighters, many fires are preventable and are caused by old – overloaded power sources, unattended cooking accidents and candles.
It is recommended that residents keep all potential fuel sources (decorations, live trees and wreaths) at least three feet from any heat source.