The recent end of daylight savings time gave us another hour of sleep and a reminder that winter is just around the corner. As we stay home and prepare meals more often, turn on the heat and light fires in fireplaces, it is important to maintain vigilance for fire safety. Fire-related injuries are often permanent or even fatal.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that the top causes for house fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Cooking fires alone result in an average of 172,900 fire department responses annually. The NFPA recommends the following cooking with caution tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food, and shut cooking equipment off even if leaving the kitchen for a short period of time;
  • Stay in the home if you are simmering, baking or roasting food, and regularly check the oven using a timer as a reminder;
  • Stay alert when cooking – don’t use the stove or stovetop if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol;
  • Keep flammable items, including oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, paper towels, dish towels, and curtains, away from the stovetop.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

Additionally, while you should maintain a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen, use it with care and when in doubt, call for help. More than half of injuries caused by home fires are caused by civilians attempting to fight fires without the help of a local fire department.

Use heat sources wisely. Keep flammable items away from fireplaces, and use fireplace screens or other protectors. If you need to use portable space heaters, look for ones with overheat and tip protections. Maintain a three-foot “child-free” zone around space heaters, and always turn them off when you leave the room.

One easy way to increase fire safety in your home is to replace smoke detector batteries with the changing of the clocks. While many homes now have hard-wired smoke detectors, even modern smoke detectors have battery back-up operations. Taking a proactive approach to battery replacement at the changing of the clocks helps to increase the functionality of smoke detectors and avoid that late-night low-battery chirping sound.

While prevention is key, families, especially with young children and elderly members of the home, should implement fire escape plans, which can be practiced on a regular basis, to keep everyone involved and aware of fire safety issues.

Even when best practices are used, accidents do happen, and fires result. Fires can cause serious, even fatal injuries, including burns, breathing issues and other problems. If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire, SUGARMAN’s experienced personal injury attorneys can help you explore your options. Call us today at 617-542-1000, or email us at