Fire danger goes up as temperatures go down

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - When temperatures dip to frigid lows, people will do almost anything to stay warm. But sometimes those choices are just as dangerous as the cold itself.

You only need three things to start a fire: heat, fuel and oxygen.

Those three simple components created a fire at a Merriam home after a family put ashes in a plastic container. It's possible that fire sparked more than a day later. Because of the frigid conditions, three times the number of firefighters were called in to help put the fire out making it just one of more than 50,000 fires caused by heating issues each year.

"Heat will build up until it reaches a certain temperature and whatever that item is, it will flame up," Tricia Roberts of the Overland Park Fire Department said.

Space heaters alone account for one-third of heating fires.

"You want to make sure that if you do choose to use a space heater that you use the kind that is automatically shuts off if it's tipped over. And you want to keep a three-foot clearance around it at all times," Roberts said.

Roberts advises to use the appliances just the way they are designed.

Below are some of the Overland Park Fire Department's dos and don'ts when it comes to cold weather caution. For more, visit their website here:


Blow candles out before you leave a room
Maintain a three-foot clearance around space heaters in every direction
Dispose of ashes in metal container
Check/replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


Carry a candle in place of a flashlight
Use an extension cord for space heater
Store ashes indoors
Grill indoors
Use the oven or stove to heat your home

Print this article Back to Top