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FunTimes Magazine

Winter Fire Safety 101

Jan 16, 2022 08:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo

(Matches. Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels )

On January 5th, 2022, 12 Philadelphians, including 8 children, perished in a house fire in the Fairmount area of Philadelphia when a 5-year-old playing with a lighter accidentally lit a Christmas tree on fire. On January 9th, 2022, a Bronx apartment caught fire and claimed the lives of 18, including 9 children, and injured over 60 people due to a faulty space heater and a lack of apartment maintenance. Many of the victims of the Bronx fire were of Gambian descent. In commemoration of the lives lost, and to prevent future tragedies, FunTimes Magazine offers these fire safety tips.

The National Fire Data Center reported that the lower the socioeconomic status of a community, the higher the occurrence of fires, which may be related to overcrowdedness, maintenance capacities, family structures, housing quality, smoke detector access, and more. While addressing poverty-related factors to solve this issue is worthwhile, it is important to be aware of fire safety strategies that individuals may utilize, especially during the winter months.

During the winter, more families use appliances that can potentially cause fire hazards, like space heaters. In a ‘Holiday/Winter Fire Safety’ podcast episode by the Forty Acres F.R.E.E. Tour, Lieutenant Lisa DeSamour of the Philadelphia Fire Department advises communities to keep heaters at least three feet away from combustible or flammable items. Lieutenant DeSamour also says to keep eyes on young children who may bump into the space heaters and to always turn off space heaters whenever one leaves the room. Lieutenant DeSamour stresses the importance of extension cords only being intended for temporary use and tells communities that it is not advisable to plug extension cords into other extension cords, as this could cause a fire.

Having knowledge of fire exits is important in case of emergencies. To optimize safety, Lieutenant DeSamour advises families to do fire drills, and make sure everyone in the house knows how to access a fire exit. It is also imperative to declutter one’s space and make sure that there are no items blocking any exits. Regularly testing smoke detectors, and having C02 or Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning may save lives. 

Watch the full Holiday/Winter Fire Safety podcast episode here

Donate to the families of those deceased in the Philadelphia fire here.

Donate to the families of those deceased in the Bronx fire here.

Philadelphia families may be eligible to receive free smoke detectors and free installation from the City of Philadelphia. Learn more here.

Works Cited

This article is made in collaboration with Broke in Philly.


 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ( ).

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