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US Home Fire Deaths Increase as Winter Sets In

News media reports at least 148 lives lost in home fires already this year

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January 17, 2013

Contact: USFA Press Office, 301-447-1853

News Media Reports of Civilian Fire Fatalities

US map showing fire fatalities

EMMITSBURG, Md. – While the winter months always bring a spike in home fires, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) says home fire deaths reported on by the news media are above those reported at this time last year. According to media reports, home fires have already claimed 148 lives this month, 24 more than reported during Jan. 1-16, 2012.

Home fire incidence is collectively highest in the three winter months of January, February and March. Cooking and heating are the leading causes of these fires. The risk of fire also increases with the use of electric space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves.

Older adults (50 deaths) and children (28 deaths) have accounted for more than half of home fire deaths reported by the news media in January. The toll on people and places in recent days includes:

Most of these tragedies remain under investigation but space heaters, candles and cooking are among the causes suspected in a number of these incidents. Whatever the cause of the fires, one thing is certain: all of these deaths were preventable. USFA encourages everyone to take just 30 seconds to learn the essentials for staying fire-safe this winter by viewing our winter fire safety video.

In addition, smoke alarms are an essential line of defense in the home, giving families valuable time to escape. About two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, or in homes where residents removed the alarm's batteries or where the batteries are dead. USFA’s Install. Inspect. Protect. public education campaign urges residents to install smoke alarms in their homes and inspect and maintain them on a regular basis.

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

USFA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have teamed up to remind everyone about ways to keep warm and safe throughout the winter months. The safety campaign, Put a Freeze on Winter Fires, includes a wealth of heating, cooking and other winter fire safety tips.