Preventing winter house fires - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Preventing winter house fires

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(WRCB) -- All too often firefighters keep busy this time of year putting out house fires. The colder weather means many people will begin to heat their homes with fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters, increasing the chances for accidental fires.

"This time of year a lot of the homes go up in flames due to careless heater use," says Lt. Nick Wilson with the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department.

As a part of the fire prevention unit, he wants to make sure you avoid accidental fires at all costs.

"A lot of people are using the insider heaters, such as the kerosene heaters and things of that nature."

Make sure to properly ventilate the heaters to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and keep them at least three feet away from all other flammable objects.

"Don't place them near furniture, draperies, things of that nature," says Wilson.

Some other tips from the Tennessee State Fire Marshal include: Never use extension cords with space heaters. Be sure to purchase surge protectors from reliable retailers. Lower-quality surge protectors could potentially be dangerous.

Also make sure your chimney is cleaned before using your fireplace.

You should also be cautious with your Christmas decorations.

"Be cautious with the lighting and stuff on those trees. Don't let them dry out because they'll burn, and they'll burn fast," says Wilson.

Wilson says, if you have not already, discuss what your family would do in case of a fire.

"Always have that escape route planned. Always have that safe meeting place, whether it be outside in the yard somewhere, a neighbors house. It might be where you go to call 911."

Bottom line, he and other firefighters do not want to see you at your house this winter because of fire.

"We'd rather see you out in the community in passing then at your house in three o'clock in the morning," he says.

One final reminder, make sure you have working smoke detectors because they can save your life.

The state fire marshal's office says, statewide, smoke alarms were present in only 36 percent of all fatal fire cases last year.

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