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Stay warm, safe this winter

Staying warm during the winter months can be risky if the proper safety measures are not considered.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, and one in every seven home fires involve heating equipment.

“We always recommend to follow manufactures recommendations when using portable heaters,” Clanton Fire Chief David Driver said. “Never use any type of cooking appliance or other cooking equipment as heat sources.”

He advised for residents to keep at least five feet between portable heaters and combustible materials.

Extension cords should not be used to power electric heaters because it could overheat and cause a fire.

Plugging heaters into wall outlets is always the best option.

Another popular heating source is fireplaces in houses that have them.

“If using a wood-burning fireplace, have a professional inspect and clean the chimney yearly,” Driver said.

In the event of a fire, having working smoke detectors and a fire escape plan can help protect those living in the home from harm.

The NFPA instructs smoke alarms be installed in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of a house.

“As always, have working smoke detectors,” Driver said. “Test them monthly and change batteries twice a year.”

The association estimates that three out of five deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that did not work.

Smoke alarms are recommended to be replaced every 10 years.