More House Fires Ignite in Colder Months

January 5, 2018

A greater number of structural fires occur in the winter months. In colder weather, homeowners crank up the heat, using space heaters and electric blankets. But leaving them on too long or placing them too close to flammable objects can spark fires quickly, realtor.com® warns.

“A substantial portion of the structure fire increase is caused by heating fires,” according to a study by the United States Fires Administration, “The Seasonal Nature of Fires.” “Since colder temperatures result in longer operating time for heating equipment, there is more opportunity for that equipment to cause a fire.”

The older the building, the more risky it may be. Colder air contains less moisture and so the “physical wood structure of a home becomes drier ... which can contribute to electrical fires under the right conditions,” Nick Markowitz Jr., a Pennsylvania fire investigator, explains in an article on the prevalence of wintertime house fires.

To fireproof a home during the winter, experts recommend a safety inspection, particularly with older homes.

“To prevent these fires, we recommend that owners of houses—particularly historic houses—have a licensed electrician conduct an annual safety inspection,” says Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group. “They will use a thermal camera to ensure that none of your circuits are overloaded by appliances and check the breakers to make sure they trip properly and are installed to code.”

Also, homeowners should regularly test smoke detectors in the house and ensure a fire extinguisher is in an easily findable location on each floor. Fire extinguishers do expire, so be sure to check the expiration date and replace as needed.

Source: “The Clintons, Hot Tubs?! Why House Fires Happen More When It’s Freezing Cold,” realtor.com® (Jan. 4, 2018)