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A deadly fire can happen to anyone

Nov. 2, 2020

Damage from a cooking-related fire
A cooking-related fire in April at an Inver Grove Heights apartment killed a 60-year-old man.

You’ve no doubt heard us say it before: Even one death is too many, no matter what the cause. And fire deaths are, more often than not, heartbreakingly preventable. Which is why we’re asking for your help. According to preliminary numbers, there have been 45 fire deaths so far in 2020. In 2019, there were 47 fire deaths, but that was for the whole year.

We still have two months to go, and that includes heating season and the holidays. And considering that over a quarter of last year’s fire deaths happened in November and December, it will be essential for all Minnesotans to focus on winter fire prevention.

Unfortunately, there’s no common theme in these fire deaths, except for the fact that they all happened because of human behavior. For example, at least seven of this year’s fire deaths are smoking-related; at least four are cooking-related. People are dying because someone walked away from food cooking on the stove, tried to put out their cigarette in a potted plant, or any one of a number of other preventable behaviors.

That’s where you come in, especially at this time of year. The number of fires tends to increase over the winter holiday months because people stay inside more (and therefore use heat sources more), decorate with things like candles and trees, and cook holiday feasts. Cooking, heating and open flames happen to be the three leading causes of fires in Minnesota, and careless smoking remains the leading cause of fire deaths, so it’s important to follow safety tips to prevent your holidays from becoming tragic. Here are a few:

The goal here is to prevent fires from happening altogether. But that’s not always possible, which is why smoke alarms are an absolute must. Because of modern construction and furnishings, you have about 3 minutes to get out of a burning home. That makes family escape plans and smoke alarms essential. Make sure you have one on every level of your home, as well as in each bedroom. And of course, smoke alarms can only save your life if they work, which is why you should replace the batteries at least once a year and test the alarms monthly.

Yes, even one death is too many, and we’re all in this together. So as you get ready for the winter and holidays, remember the 45 people who have died in fires so far this year in Minnesota, and take simple precautions to avoid becoming part of that number.