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The Heat Is (Safely) On

Home Fires Are More Prevalent In Winter

Cold winter temps make me want to turn up the heat and cozy up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. However, according to the National Fire Protection Agency, home fires are more prevalent in the winter than any other season. This is largely due to an increase in cooking (who wants to venture out into the cold for dinner reservations this time of year?!) and an increase in those cozy fires. And, during a time when the cost to heat a home can be extremely high, people are turning to alternative ways to heat their homes; space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces - all potential contributing factors to a house fire. So, what are some things you can do to help prevent a house fire, and in the unlucky event that one does happen, will your Homeowners Insurance cover the loss and damage?


A Clean Sweep
A chimney sweep every year is a must. It will check for leaks, cracks and clean the chimney of any debris or a buildup of creosote. A couple of years ago I rented an apartment that had a fireplace. We were told the chimney had been swept, so on the first chilly winter night, we built a fire. Thirty minutes later we saw the flashing lights of the entire fire department outside. A neighbor had called 911 after looking out their window and seeing flames shooting out from the top of our chimney. The fire department put out the flame, checked there was no internal damage and concluded that a bird had built a nest inside the chimney, which had quickly caught on fire. Another conclusion? The chimney had not recently been swept and we got lucky.

Don’t get spacy
Space heaters are an easy and efficient means of heating a room. But whether it’s powered by electricity or kerosene, never leave one unattended. Also be sure to leave at least 3 feet between the heater and furniture, curtains, papers, etc. and always follow the manufacturer’s directions to a tee.

Blow out the flame
Candles are a popular alternative light source when a winter storm knocks out the power. User beware! Candles are also responsible for 42 home fires a day. If you must use candles, always keep them a safe distance from furniture or other combustible items, make sure they are in a sturdy candle holder, and most importantly, never leave a candle unattended.

Detect the Smoke
In addition to warning you there’s a fire before extensive damage is done, investing in smoke detectors could help you qualify for discounts on your home insurance. Install them in your home, clean them regularly, and as a rule of thumb, replace the batteries at the beginning and end of every daylight savings (March and November).

Fire can destroy your home. Homeowners insurance can help rebuild it.
According to the US Fire Administration approximately 41,000 fires in 2010 were due to open flames or fireplace related fires. Having Homeowners Insurance can save you from a financial disaster. It can cover the home due to smoke, water, and structural damage, as well as provide you with a place to live while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Depending on your level of coverage, your insurance may cover the loss of perils, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost per fire claim is approximately $33,000.

Is your home adequately protected against the risk of fire? Meet with your independent insurance agent  to ask about a Homeowners or Renters Policy. Don’t have a trusted local agent? Find one today at


The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any policies, nor does it provide any guarantees. You should read your specific policy for a complete description of coverage.


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