Feb 11, 2014

Mid-winter home check up to help avoid fires

DARKE COUNTY - There has been a lot of winter weather to enjoy this year. Sledding, ice skating, and of course the occasional snow ball fight. This winter everything about winter has made its presence. The cold, wind, snow, ice, and some sunny days have been seen. The unpredictable winter is about half way through and it is a good time to check and make sure houses are still safe.

This winter, cold weather has everyone using all types of heating options to keep their homes and family warm. The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2011 heating equipment was involved in 53,600 of reported structure fires in the U.S., 400 of those fires reported a civilian death, 1520 reported civilian injuries. Space heater, whether portable or stationary, accounted for 33% of home heating fires. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was failure to clean chimneys. Now with alternative fuel heating, vents of these devices need to be inspected and cleaned regularly.

In 53% of residential fatal fires combustible materials were placed too closely to a heating device. Combustible materials such as furniture upholstery, clothing, mattress, or bedding should be kept at a safe distance from all hot surfaces of a heating device. Never use a stove or oven to heat the home. Not only is it a safety hazard but it can produce toxic fumes. If the home is using an electric heating device be sure to plug into the wall directly and not use extension cords or power strips. Avoid using electric heaters in bathrooms or around other water sources. Be sure to have at least one smoke detector and one carbon monoxide detector for each level of the residence.

Here are some additional safety awareness tips for around the home. If there is an attached garage, be sure the garage door is open before starting vehicle and pull the vehicle out to allow it to warm up. If there is a fire hydrant in the yard or near the residence, ensure that it is not covered up with snow so the Fire Department has access to it in case of an emergency. Practicing fire safety and home safety can be a family activity that all can be involved in. Practicing a home escape plan in the winter while checking smoke detector batteries is a good family activity.


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