Stay safe while staying warm

Deadliest time of the year for house fires

The wintry blast of cold air has Texans turning on space heaters and fireplaces in an attempt to keep warm, but homeowners should beware of the possible dangers with sources of heat near clothing, flammable materials, and any leftover Christmas decorations.

Statistics show house fires are more frequent, more costly, and deadliest this time of the year.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s office, more residential structure fires occur in the months of December and January, than any other time. More sources of heat, such as space heaters, fireplaces, and oven ranges, bring about more chances of an accidental fire.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home injuries and you should be careful when cooking or if using the fire to warm your home.

Space heaters are the second-leading cause of home fires in the country.

While these heating devices are handy for heating small areas of the house, if they are too close to things that can burn, they can ignite articles of clothing, furniture, and other flammable materials.

In addition, many Texans love a nice, warm fire, but left unattended, sparks from a fireplace can shoot several feet winding up in carpet, newspapers or other ignitable items. Before walking away, placing a screen over the fireplace can prevent a deadly fire.

“Whether you have food on the stove or a roaring fire in the fireplace, as a homeowner, you should never leave either one unattended,” said State Fire Marshal Orlando Hernandez. “Kitchen fires are the number one cause of house fires and one errant spark from that fireplace can set a house ablaze.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says homeowners should use their “heating smarts” when it comes to heating equipment such as furnaces, space heaters, and fireplaces — especially since half of home heating fires are reported during December, January and February.

According to the NFPA, more than 1,600 people died in house fire related deaths last year across the country and Texas led the list with the most fatal house fires per capita.

For more advice on staying safe and warm during our winter weather, we recommend following these tips provided by the NFPA (

Preparedness Tips

Turn off portable heaters when leaving a room.
Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually.
Have the right receptacle for fireplace ashes.
Check your home heating system by replacing furnace filters and looking for rust, cracks or any damage.
Know what to do (and not to do) if there’s a gas smell in your home