Fire risks increase due to cold weather

Officials urges residents to be safe during cold snap

Author: Lisa McDonald, Assignment Editor,
Published On: Jan 04 2014 12:01:38 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 04 2014 04:52:47 PM EST

With another blast of cold weather on the way, Volusia County firefighters are encouraging residents to practice fire safety in their homes, officials said.

"As temperatures drop, the risk of house fires increases," said Jeff Smith, interim chief for Volusia County Fire Services. "Many people will be lighting their fireplaces for the first time and bringing out space and kerosene heaters."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating ranks only behind smoking in causing home-fire deaths and second only to cooking in causing home-fire injuries. Most home-heating fire deaths and injuries involve space heaters.

"If you're using a space heater, make sure it's several inches away from the wall and nowhere near combustible items such as curtains, chairs, beds and towels," Smith said. "Check the space heater regularly to make sure the cord isn’t frayed and the radiant elements aren't missing or broken."

Volusia County Fire Services and the National Fire Protection Association offer these tips to prevent home-heating fires.

 Space heater safety


Fireplace and chimney safety

General home-heating tips

"This is a great time to get outside and do some lawn and home maintenance that can prevent fires," Smith added. "Clean out your gutters and remove dead vegetation and flammable bushes that are within 30 feet of your home. Your plants should be healthy and green, and the lawn should be well irrigated."

Smith said for homeowners replace mulch, which is highly flammable, with gravel or rock. Trees should be thinned out so there is 10 to 15 feet between the tree crowns, and limbs should be pruned to a height of six to 10 feet.