By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is National Fire Prevention Week, and as the weather gets cooler, 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds that it’s the perfect time to remind families about the most common causes of home fires and how to avoid them.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Fire Administration estimate there are almost 367,000 unintentional house fires annually, leading to more than 2,300 deaths, more than 12,000 injuries and more than $7 billion dollars in property damage.

The most common cause of house fires, carelessness in the kitchen. In a matter of minutes, a toppled bag of groceries on a hot stove top can go up in flames.

Inez Tenenbaum, Chairwoman of the CPSC says, “40 percent of the fires are caused by kitchen fires. So we say never leave your kitchen while you’re cooking, never leave anything unattended and if you do that, you can reduce the hazard significantly.”

Other dangers in the cooler weather include portable space heaters, which can become hazards if they spark too close to curtains.

It’s also a good idea to have home heating equipment, fireplaces and chimneys inspected by a professional once per year. And it sounds so simple — but check smoke alarm batteries regularly, and have a family fire escape route, in case of emergency.

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