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Liberty Mutual Insurance provides holiday and winter safety tips at

Prevent the holidays from going up in smoke

One-third of home fires occur during the winter and cooking is the number one cause of these tragedies

Cooking is the major cause for one-third of home fires during the winter months.

As the holiday season approaches, families crank up the heat, decorate their homes with lights and candles, and gather in the kitchen to prepare and enjoy warm, home-cooked meals. Unfortunately, the cold weather and seasonal activities can also create more fire hazards around the home. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that residential building fires during the winter months result in approximately 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries and $1.7 billion in property loss each year. To prevent the holidays from going up in smoke, Liberty Mutual Insurance encourages families to visit BeFireSmart website as a go-to resource for tips on preventing home fires.

"One-third of home fires occur during the winter and cooking is the number-one cause of these tragedies between December and February," said Greg Gordon, Liberty Mutual's senior vice president, Consumer Marketing. "This means that while families are together this holiday season they should take the time to ensure everyone is doing their part to prevent a home fire."

The need for family preparedness is apparent, as past research from Liberty Mutual Insurance and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) uncovered that 84 percent of parents do not frequently discuss fire safety with their children.

Tips to help keep homes protected from fires this winter

To help keep homes protected from fires this winter, Liberty Mutual's Be Fire Smart Program offers the following fire safety tips:

  • Turn holiday lights off when not at home
  • Secure a sturdy metal screen in front of fireplaces to prevent hot ash from escaping
  • Never use an oven as a heating device - it can release potentially toxic fumes
  • Avoid placing space heaters in bathrooms or other damp locations
  • Practice an escape plan - during the day and night - at least twice a year
  • Do not leave an active stove or oven unattended
  • Have chimneys and other sources of heat cleaned by a qualified professional
  • Do not overload power strips
  • Keep portable heaters at least three feet away from all combustible materials and never leave them unattended

Parents will find BeFireSmart website to be rich with content to help them teach their families about fire safety and to prevent home fires from occurring. The site includes games, room-by-room hazard checklists, interactive fire safety quizzes and a tool to build your own fire escape plan. The fast and fun kids' section also features a downloadable coloring book that tells a story about the importance of never hiding from a firefighter during a fire. The site also is a resource for fire departments, hosting Liberty Mutual's annual online pledge program that provides $100,000 in fire department grants to communities that demonstrate a commitment to fire safety.

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