Fire officials remind residents of cold weather safety

Published 8:25 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

By Heather McGinley
Staff Writer

Cold weather brings with it winter holidays, time with family and friends and the possibility of snow.

However, cold weather also brings a sad reality — preventable fire deaths.

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Many of the most preventable fire deaths occur during the winter, when residents are overloading circuits with heating equipment, using the equipment improperly and burning fires in the fireplace or wood stove.

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs recently issued a press release with reminders for cold weather fire safety. Here are some of the most vital tips:

4Don’t overload circuits

4Use extension cords with the correct rating

4Never use extension cords as a permanent solution

4Avoid using electrical space heaters in areas where they may get wet

4Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every level of your home

4Pactice your escape routes, checking windows to ensure they are easily opened from the inside

4Never discard hot ashes inside or near your home

4Keep young children and flammable materials away from space heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, furnaces and kerosene heaters

4Have your chimney inspected annually

4Keep a metal or glass screen in front of your fireplace opening

4Make sure wood stoves, fireplaces and furnaces are in good working condition before use

4Ensure that kerosene heaters have an emergency shut off in case the heater tips over

4Refuel kerosene heaters outside when the unit is cool, using only the type of fuel your unit is designed to use

4Use fuel-burning heaters only in well-ventilated areas

4Ensure that wood stoves have a clearance of 36 inches from combustible surfaces

4Ensure your stove or fireplace has been properly installed

4Never use flammable liquids to ignite or accelerate a fire

4Don’t burn excessive amounts of paper to build a fire

4Stoves should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce creosote buildup