Tip of the Month: Fire Safety

November 12, 2012

The Safety Tip of the Month is provided by U.Va.'s Office of Emergency Preparedness on the 11th of every month.

The National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration report that most home fires take place during the winter than any other season. These fires are due primarily to increased cooking and heating, and holiday decorations can also be an issue. Power interruptions caused by winter storms can lead people to use alternative heating sources, which also increases the risk of fires.

All of these factors can be avoided. Some guidelines:


  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Outdoors, position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Staying Warm

  • Portable Space Heaters
  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.

  • Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.

  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

  • Fireplaces and Woodstoves
  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually. Never burn trash, paper or green wood.

  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.

  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Holiday Decorations

  • Keep fresh holiday greens well-watered and away from heat sources (heat vents/fireplaces).
  • Be sure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit path.
  • Inspect all electrical decorations for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.

For more winter fire safety tips click here.

For information, contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 434-982-0565 or uvaoep@virginia.edu.

Media Contact

Marge Sidebottom

U.Va. Director Of Emergency Preparedness