As the temperatures outside fall, the risk for home fires rises.
Problems related to heating equipment and fireplaces are the second leading cause of home fires, according to a new report from the U.S. Fire Administration. Only cooking causes more home fires.
An average 50,100 heating fires occurred annually from 2008 to 2010. The fires killed an average 150 people, injured 575 others and caused $326 million in damage each year, the report said.
Confined fires -- those in chimneys, flues or fuel burners, accounted for 87 percent of home fires. Thirty percent of non-confined fires started because the heat source was too close to flammable items, such as clothing or bedding. Heating fires peak in the early evening.
The U.S. Fire Administration provided these safety tips:
- Hire professionals to clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys each year.
- Use only heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Plug space heaters directly into outlets and never into extension cords or power strips.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms.