For any Pittsburgher, the winter months can be a mixture of snowy days, family gatherings and holiday fun. Families enjoy coming together around large holiday meals and, as the temperatures begin to drop, people turn to alternative methods of keeping warm. Space heaters and electric blankets are a few of those alternative methods being used to keep loved ones warm in the home. However, as the popularity of these devices continues to heat up, so does the risk of fires in the home. Half of all home fires occur during the winter. The West Penn Burn Center is working to put a freeze on winter fires by focusing efforts on fire and burn prevention education this season.
“Most of the burn injuries could be prevented. At the West Penn Burn Center, we are fully committed to educating the community on burn safety and fire prevention. We want our neighbors to enjoy the winter and be safe at the same time,” said Ariel Aballay, MD, West Penn Burn Center Director.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately one-third of all home fires in the United States are caused by space heaters. These types of fires can be prevented by keeping all flammable objects at least three feet away from heating equipment and by following fire prevention methods from the West Penn Burn Center.
The use of an electric blanket is often a less expensive alternative to cranking up the heat or using a space heater. However, electric blankets can pose threats to the health and safety of your home. Most electric blanket fires are related to old or worn electrical cords or the overheating of the blanket itself which results in the ignition of nearby flammable materials. When using an electric blanket, be sure to follow the device instructions and take safety precautions.
In addition to staying warm, the winter months are host to some of America’s most beloved holidays. When families gather during the holidays, safety in the kitchen is of the upmost importance. When cooking, stay with the food you are preparing so that you can check on it frequently and ensure it is not overheating. Also, be sure to keep small children away from the stove to avoid injury from hot food and liquids. One of the most popular activities during Thanksgiving is frying a turkey, but this can be dangerous even for those who follow all safety precautions. A turkey fryer accident can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and destruction of property.
The winter months are unfortunately the leading time of year for home fires. The West Penn Burn Center encourages everyone to take precautions especially when it comes to holiday cooking and alternative heating equipment. As you stay cozy and warm with your family this winter season, be sure to practice fire safety in order to prevent burn injuries.