Who can forget the tragic events that unfolded in Stamford on Christmas Day, 2011? Connecticut residents were devastated as news spread about how three young children and their grandparents died in a fire at the childrens' home on Christmas morning.
The fire reportedly began when a male acquaintance of the childrens' mother tossed a yule log, which had been burning in the home's fireplace, in a mudroom on the first floor. A wood ember ignited and fire spread quickly throughout the house, which authorities said did not have working smoke detectors. The children's grandfather tried to save the kids, but the grandfather, a Southbury resident, also perished.
While this was one of the most heart-wrenching stories in our state's history, it is unfortunately not the only tragic story of how seemingly preventable fires have caused heartache and devestation.
The U.S. Fire Administration estimates fire accounts for an average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and almost $2 billion in property damage each winter.
In light of that, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, or FSA, encourages people to take proper fire safety precautions.
“With the increased use of fireplaces and home heating systems during the winter months, families need to take the proper precautions to prevent potentially dangerous fire situations,” said Russell Fleming, FSA president, states in a news release.
He said holiday decorations can pose fire threats if not properly displayed and loss of electricity from winter storms can cause people to use alternative heating sources. Both of those can contribute to the increased risk of fire in the winter months, Fleming states.
"By taking the proper precautions and being aware of fire hazards in your home, families can help to decrease winter fire fatalities and property loss and keep their homes and families safe," he states.
With winter just beginning, the NFSA provides the following fire safety tips to keep families and loved ones safe all season long:
- Water Your Christmas Tree- If your family has a Christmas tree with lights, make sure that the needles are not overly dry, which can lead to the tree catching fire. Likewise, unplug the lights when your family is asleep.
- Watch Your Space Heaters- Limit your use of Space heaters and never leave them unattended. Space heaters are very dangerous if not used properly, and need to be at least three feet away from anything combustible.
- Check Your Smoke Detectors- To ensure they are working properly and have full battery power. It’s recommended that you check the batteries in your smoke alarms when it’s time to turn the clocks forward or backward.
- Have Emergency Numbers Handy - Keep an up-to-date list of emergency fire, police, and medical phone numbers near your telephone. Show every member of your family where this information is kept and teach all children how to call for help in case of an emergency.
- Have an Escape Plan- Develop an escape plan with your family from multiple rooms within your home, both upstairs and downstairs. Take time to review the escape plan with your family, including a practice fire drill. Make sure the windows of children’s rooms are well marked to indicate them to firefighters.
- Consider Installing Residential Fire Sprinklers- Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fireprotection, providing firefighters the time they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible, while helping to avoid potential injuries and devastating tragedies protecting your family and property.
For more information on how to protect yourself and loved ones this winter from the dangers of fire and to learn more about the life saving benefits of residential fire sprinklers visit www.NFSA.org.