With the lake area seeing the first snowflakes of winter 2013 Monday morning, area residents are sure to crank up the heaters.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in the United States. Common sense and simple steps can go a long way in preventing most heating related fires.
Area fire protection districts encourage homeowners to read through these tips to help protect their family and their homes this upcoming winter:
•Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater).
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
•Never use your oven to heat your home.
•Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
•Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected yearly by a qualified professional.
•Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
•Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container then the container should be kept a safe distance from your house and other combustibles.
•Test smoke alarms monthly, and change the battery with the time change prior to the heating season.
The top five reasons the Osage Beach Fire Protection District sees home fires in the winter are:
•Improper disposal of ashes from the fireplace or woodstove — Ashes that have sat even for 24 hours can rekindle under the right conditions. Make sure that they are cold and stored in a location away from the home and other combustibles.
•Candles — Winter season and the Holidays also come with more use of candles in homes. This is another one of the leading causes of home fires in December. Use alternatives to candles however if you are using a candle make sure that they are not in an area where they can easily cause a fire (window sill and drapes) or be knocked over by children.
•Chimneys and flues not maintained and cleaned properly — Have you flue inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified professional.
•Overuse of extension cords — never overload a extension cord with multiple plugs.
•Improper burning of yard waste — remember to create a safe barrier when burning yard waste, have a hose nearby on turned on and never leave a fire unattended. If weather conditions change such as wind speeds extinguish fire completely.
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Make sure you and your family has a plan with at least two escape routes from any part of your home in the event of a fire. Practice this plan so that if needed all members are comfortable in what they need to do to escape safely.