As Temperatures Drop the Focus on Fire Prevention Should Rise

fire-preventionWith the cold winter months approaching, furnaces are firing up and electric space heaters are coming out of storage. Heating is one the top five home fire hazards along with cooking, smoking, candles and damaged or outdated electrical wiring. “As trauma and burn surgeons we always see an increase in burns and inhalational injuries as people start to use space heaters when cold weather arrives,” says Douglas Schuerer, MD, Washington University acute and critical care surgeon and director of trauma services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Deaths from fires and burns are the third leading cause of fatal home injury1. The United States mortality rate from fires ranks eighth among the 25 developed countries for which statistics are available2. In the St. Louis region, the American Red Cross responds to an average of three house fires every day3. Fire Prevention Awareness Week is October 5-11, and it’s the perfect time for you and your family to take an active role in fire prevention and ensure your house is safe and secure. Take the following steps to safeguard your friends and family:

  • Make and/or review an escape plan
  • Check your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are working appropriately
  • Never use your oven to heat your house
  • Make sure there are no frayed wires on your space heaters
  • Blow out candles when you leave the room

To find out more information on fire prevention, visit the National Fire Protection Association website.


  1. Runyan SW, Casteel C (Eds.). The State of Home Safety in America: Facts about Unintentional Injuries in the Home, 2nd edition. Washington, D.C.: Home Safety Council, 2004.
  2. International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics. World Fire Statistics: Information Bulletin of the World Fire Statistics. Geneva (Switzerland): The Geneva Association; 2009.
  3. American Red Cross.

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Category: Trauma

About the Author ()

Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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