LETTER: Many residental fires avoidable with cautionTurning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires.
By: Marius Laursen , Fire Marshal City of Mitchell
To the Editor:
As the temperature outside drops, Mitchell families take to the indoors. What they may not realize is that turning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. On average, NFPA research shows that heating equipment is involved in more than 60,000 reported U.S. home structure fires per year, with associated loss of more than 500 civilian deaths, more than 1,500 civilian injuries and roughly $900 million in direct property damage per year.
While all these numbers are frightening, nearly all of these fires are preventable. We can reduce the number of home-heating fires by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly.
The NFPA and Mitchell Fire Department recommend these home-heating safety tips:
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home so when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
• Practice your home fire escape drill.
• Have your chimney inspected each year by a qualified professional and cleaned if necessary.
• Be sure to have a working fire extinguisher in your home.
• Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
• Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
• Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
• Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
• Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
• Never use an oven to heat your home.
If you have any questions about home fire safety, please call the Fire Marshal at 995-8400.