Reducing the Risk of Fire During the Winter Months

Nothing feels better during our cold Minnesota winters than snuggling up in a cozy blanket and enjoying the warmth of a fire place. However, having a warm home can carry risks if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Many normal household practices during the winter raise a fire risk including, fireplaces, appliances, candles, and Christmas decorations. If a fire does happen, your homeowner’s insurance will likely cover damages and replacement costs. It’s important for you to know the risks.

What puts you at risk
Fireplace: According to the most recent statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 25,100 chimney fires are responsible for 30 deaths and $126.1 million in property damage on average each year.
Heating: Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%).
Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top two days for home candle fires are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2013-2017, an average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported each year.
Electrical: Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
Christmas Tree: Between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 40 percent of Christmas tree related home fires.

A few tips to reduce your risk
If you have a wood burning fireplace, make sure that you take steps to contain the fire within the fire box. Use screens to keep sparks from flying into a room and landing on furniture. You should always extinguish these fires completely. Never let them smolder.
• Make sure that your chimney is cleaned annually. If ashes and other residual debris accumulate in a chimney, they can easily cause a fire to start.
• Make sure your space heater is working properly and doesn’t overburden the outlet. And, never leave the heater unattended.
• Don’t place flammable objects near sources of heat.
• Blow out candles when you aren’t in a room and keep them away from anything flammable.
• Check electrical cords often. Replace cracked, damaged, and loose electrical or extension cords. Do not try to repair them.
• Pick out a fresh-looking Christmas tree and keep it watered. Keep it away from heat and turn off the tree’s lights when you’re not around to keep an eye on them.

We encourage you to reach out to AgQuest/MN River Insurance to help answer questions you have regarding fire coverage on your homeowner’s insurance. Our agents have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate through the complexities of your homeowner’s insurance, as well as your auto and farm insurance policies, to give you peace of mind. Don’t leave yourself exposed to the unexpected; contact one of our agents today!

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