Our Two Fire Seasons in the Northwest

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Our two fire seasons

We have, rightly so, been focused on the terrible fires that seem to be consuming California, and the Pacific Northwest. While these are horrible and devastating, we sometimes don’t focus on a risk that we have control over, a house fire, it seems that this time of the year at least once a week, we hear of a house burning down. In fact, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says there are more than 360,000 home structure fires each year, resulting in about $6-8 billion dollars in damage. We have all seen the Christmas tree go up in smoke, and the hazards of frying a turkey, but what are some of leading causes of home fires? Candles: Who doesn’t love the romantic glow of candlelight? But, even if you enjoy their fragrance and ambiance, you might want to think twice before lighting a candle and leaving the room. From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage.

Electrical: This is the cause of fires that is most easily missed, especially this time of the year. It is easy this time of the year to plug that space heater into an overloaded circuit, of use an old surge protector to add additional capacity to an already overloaded circuit, we think about leaving a candle burning, but what about a space heater that has kicked off?

According to the NFPA, in 2011 approximately 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. These resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage. Wiring accounted for 63% of the fires reported from 2007-2011 that involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

Clothes dryers: This is one that I really had not thought of.

Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage. The most frequent causes of fires in dryers are lint/dust (29%) and clothing (28%). In washers, they are wire or cable insulation (26%), the appliance housing (21%) or the drive belt (15%). Jan and I often start a dryer load, and then leave, so we need to minimize our risk by attending to the state of repair- cleanliness of our dryer.

Kids: The NFPA says that children start an average of 7,100 home fires per year, causing approximately $172 million in property damage. July is the most active month for these fires, and males start the majority (83%) of them. Younger children under the age of six are more likely to start fires inside, using matches or a lighter as the ignition source. The most frequent sites for fires are the