Nationwide Insurance survey shows U.S. homeowners taking risks with home safety when using alternative heating sources
Fire claims caused by space heaters, fireplaces and wood burning stoves rise as Americans attempt to offset heating costs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2010
Charley Gillespie (614) 249-5701
Columbus, Ohio — We’re only a third of the way through winter and Americans have already endured some of the coldest temperatures in decades. What may turn out to be one of the coldest winters on record has spurred many to take risks that often end in tragic home fires.
A review of Nationwide Insurance claims data found significant increases over the past few winters in home fires caused by alternative heating sources – such as fireplaces, wood burning stoves and space heaters. To find out why, Nationwide commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 Americans that revealed the risks many homeowners take with home safety to stay warm and to save money on their heating bills.
Among key findings in Nationwide’s survey released today, 68 percent of those surveyed said they plan to use their alternative heating source as much or more often compared to last winter.
Among the fire risks revealed: 29 percent do not turn off their space heater when going to bed, 13 percent use their oven to heat their kitchen, 11 percent use an extension cord with their electric space heater, 41 percent of Americans do not have their chimneys inspected each year (25 percent do it less than every four years) and 38 percent do not own carbon monoxide detectors.
“While fireplaces and space heaters help keep home heating costs down, the recent jump in fire claims caused by these devices highlight how costly they can be if installed incorrectly or not used properly,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide’s Safety Officer. “Each of these claims represents a significant and often life-changing event that in most cases could have been prevented.”
According to Nationwide Insurance fire claims, wood burning fireplaces easily cause the most alternative heating source fires followed by wood burning stoves, overloaded extension cords, space heaters and gas fireplaces. Fire claims from last winter show significant increases from the winter of ’07/’08 in fires caused by many of these devices -- including a 16 percent jump in fires caused by wood burning fireplaces; a 15 percent increase in fires caused by overloaded extension cords and fires caused by fuel-burning space heaters went up 18 percent.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are 64,000 home heating fires annually in the United States, resulting in 540 deaths and 1,400 injuries. And the problem may get worse as more Americans sacrifice home protection in an attempt to offset high home heating costs by using alternative heating sources.
The reason people are using the devices is to save money. Americans
surveyed by Nationwide say they save an average of $474 each winter by
using alternative heating sources and those in the Midwest save an
average of $644.
“While Americans are saving a lot of money using these alternative heating sources, they can be extremely dangerous,” Windsor added. “But by taking a few simple precautions, your family can stay warm and stay safe.”
For important fire prevention tips go to http://www.nationwide.com/home-fire-prevention.jsp
As a homeowner, you know disasters can occur inside and outside your home, so it pays to be prepared. Protect your family and your belongings with comprehensive home insurance.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including car insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.