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Winter Fire Safety: Tips for January

an elderly man and his granddaughter light a candle

Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms, and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months. The Buncombe County Fire Marshal’s office wants to help you and your family stay safe this winter. Check out these tips to help reduce your risk to winter fires from candles or space heaters.

Candle Fires

While not a heating source, candles, fireplaces, and cold weather all go together. Sipping hot cocoa and watching the snow come down, some candles to set the ambiance. Nice, but candle fires are at their peak in December and January.

The National Candle Association (yes! that’s a thing!) gives these steps for candle safety.

  • Don’t leave a candle burning unattended. Make sure the candle is completely out and the wick tip is no longer glowing.
  • Never burn a candle near something that could catch fire. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
  • Don’t burn candles less than 3 inches apart. This will ensure they don’t melt into each other or create their own draft which would cause them to melt irregularly.
  • Avoid drafts or vents, which can cause the flame to burn irregularly.
  • Keep away from pets and kids. Melted wax can scald, and a turned over candle can ignite a fire.

Space Heater Safety Tips

The risk of space heater fires is real. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are involved in more than a thousand home fires every year. And National Fire Protection Association reports that space heaters cause over 40 percent of home heating-related fires (which includes items like water heaters and fireplaces) and 85 percent of associated deaths.

If you are going to use one, here’s how to use a space heater safely. First, make sure your space heater includes safety features, such as a burn guard around the heating element, a shut-off if it gets too hot, and an automatic shut-off if it tips over.

Second, consider where you will use it. You should never use an extension cord or power strip with a space heater. And you should keep it on the floor, around 3 feet from the wall. So, look at the length of the electrical cord before you buy your new space heater.

Third, use the 3-foot rule. Your space heater should not only be 3 feet from the wall, it should also be 3 feet from anything flammable — pillows, curtains, bedding, furniture. And we’re not a huge fan of placing it on carpet, which could melt if the space heater tips over.

Fourth, buy a space heater that is the correct size for the for the room you want to heat. You’ll need 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor area in the room. So, if you want to heat a 10 x 10 room, or 100 square feet, you’ll need a 1,000-watt space heater.

Fifth, turn it off when you leave the room. The space heater can only warm a small amount of space. And there’s no sense in heating an empty room. Make sure to turn it off when you got to bed.

Generally, your safest bet for staying warm this winter is to use the heat system that is built into your house.

Table: News Item Documents
File NameSizeTypeDate & Time Added
Infographic 312 KB 12/19/2022 12:52 PM
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Updated Jan 06, 2023 02:31 PM
Published Dec 19, 2022 12:49 PM


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