Only you can prevent house fires

Published 8:45 pm Monday, October 20, 2008

Cold weather is beginning to move into the area. Residents are beginning to use their heaters and fireplaces for the first time each year, thus causing more risks for fires in houses and manufactured homes.

As we begin our cold season, we all need to go back and check our homes to make sure there are no fire hazards there.

First, many people use space heaters to heat their homes. If you are one of these people, remember that portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least 3 feet away.

If you use a fireplace, remember to use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.

Also, check to make sure circuits or extension cords are not overloaded. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

While we never want to think about the possibility of having a fire in our homes, the possibility always exists. So, we always need to have a planned route of escape. The first step is to have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year.

Then, practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Make sure everyone stays low to the floor when escaping from fire, and never open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house, and also plan for a way to call 911.

Following these simple steps can help protect your family from the danger of a house fire or at least keep you safe in the event of a fire.