Safety tips to avoid a winter house fire.

November 21, 2019

– OCP file photo

Safety tips to avoid a winter house fire.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

WALKERVILLE – As the winter season closes in, make sure your home is protected from tragedy.

“Especially with our department, winter is the time of year for house fires,” said Firefighter and EMT Brian Hintz with Walkerville Area Fire and Rescue.

Residents who heat with indoor or outdoor wood stoves must be especially careful. It’s important to make sure your chimney is cleaned out annually, Hintz said. Residents should also burn only wood in their wood stoves or fireplaces. Burning other material such as paper and cardboard can cause hazardous build-up in the chimney.

Wood stove owners should also make sure to properly dispose of ashes. When ashes are dumped too close to the woodpile, a fire can ignite because the embers last for days, he said. Not only is it devastating to lose your entire inventory of wood for the winter, but the fire could quickly spread to the house.

Space heaters must be used with extreme caution. “Keep flammable materials at least three feet away from the heat,” the firefighter advises. “Make sure your power source is correct.” Never use a power strip or extension cord with a space heater. “They draw too much power and catch on fire.” Also, do not leave heat sources, such as space heaters, on at night.

When you go to bed, make sure your bedroom doors are closed. By keeping the door closed, it could save you from smoke inhalation if there is a fire in the night, and it also slows down the spreading of a fire. Feel the door with your hands to see if it’s hot. If it’s hot, keep the door closed and seek a different exit to escape the fire.

Christmas trees must be watered regularly to prevent them from drying out and becoming flammable. Also, keep candles and other heat away from the tree to prevent children or pets from accidentally knocking those items into the tree and starting a fire.

Candles and cooking sources also commonly cause house fires. Do no leave candles unattended or close to anything flammable. Make sure to have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and cook with extreme caution. Do not leave flammable items, such as paper towels, paper plates and dish towels, near stove burners.

Change your smoke detectors’ batteries once a year and check them monthly. Make sure to turn off appliances, such as the clothes dryer and oven, when you leave the house.

Talk to your family about an escape plan. “It’s very important to get out as soon as possible, so we encourage people to have a plan,” Hintz said. Have a back-up escape plan, so there is more than one way to get out of the house during a fire. “Make sure everyone knows how to get out and where to go.” Having an established meeting place ensures everyone is accounted for in the event of a fire.

“Never go back in to try to save a pet or belongings or try to put the fire out yourself,” he said.

Be safe this winter by following some simple rules to avoid a devastating house fire.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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