SFMO Raises Awareness about Home Fire Risks as Temperatures Drop During Winter Months

Colder Temperatures Bring Increased Fire Risk Across Tennessee
Thursday, December 16, 2021 | 03:55pm

NASHVILLE – While winter brings traditional holiday festivities such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the season’s cold weather also poses enhanced fire-related risks to Tennessee homeowners.

During winter, fire deaths increase by almost 75 percent across the Volunteer State, according to state fire data. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths nationally and among the leading known causes for home fire deaths in Tennessee.

Ahead of the first day of winter (Tuesday, Dec. 21) and Christmas (Saturday, Dec. 25), the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) remind Tennesseans to    focus on fire safety in order to help reduce home fires and save lives this winter.

“Tennessee homeowners can stay warm and safe this winter by remembering to take a few simple steps,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner Gary Farley. “By making sure to always turn off space heaters when leaving a room, regularly watering Christmas trees, and using working smoke alarms all year long,     Tennesseans can reduce risk to themselves and emergency responders.”

A homeowner’s first line of defense against home fires in any season is a working smoke alarm. To help protect Tennesseans and save lives, the SFMO’s "Get Alarmed, Tennessee!" smoke alarm program continues to be a critical resource in helping Tennessee fire departments and fire safety partners reduce risk from home fires. Alarms installed through the “Get Alarmed” program now have 324 verified saves since the program began in 2012. Over 254,000 working smoke alarms have been distributed through this program to the SFMO’s fire service partners.

  • Keep flammable items like blankets, rugs, or furniture at least three feet away from space heaters and wood stoves.
  • Never place your Christmas tree near heating equipment, fireplaces,candles, or other sources of heat. Always keep your Christmas tree watered to prevent the tree from drying out.
  • Practice a home fire escape plan with your family. Everyone should know two ways out of each room.
  • Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected every year.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces and wood stoves. Never burn garbage or use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Make sure any fireplace has a sturdy screen to reduce the risk of flying sparks.
  • Install wood-burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional perform the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you smell gas coming from your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company. 

For more fire safety information, visit tn.gov/fire.