Stillwater News Press

Local News

December 28, 2012

Number of house fires increases in winter

STILLWATER, Okla. — With colder temperatures comes the need for heat and the possibility of disaster.

The American Red Cross urges residents to take precautions when keeping themselves warm.

American Red Cross Regional Director of Communications Ken Garcia gave a few tips.

“The main concern is when people start using space heaters in their homes, home fires tend to increase this time of year,” he said.

Garcia said space heaters should be kept on a level, hard surface such as tile or hardwood floors and should not be left unattended.

“Keep them away from the curtains,” Garcia said. “Keep them away from Christmas trees.”

He said this tip is especially important if residents have live Christmas trees which may be extremely dry. All flammable materials should be kept at least 3 feet away.

Other tips include not using your oven to heat your home. If using a gas stove, fumes could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators should be left outside.

“Anything that’s gas-powered can leak those fumes into your home,” Garcia said.

Smoke detectors should be used on every floor of a home and in each bedroom, he said.

“Teach children what it means when that smoke alarm goes off,” he said. “And practice fire safety drills.”

If your home is equipped with a fireplace, do not leave the fire unattended and have a screen or grating in front of the fire to keep hot embers leaving the fireplace.

“If people are going to use fireplaces to heat their home, hopefully they’ve had a professional come out and inspect the chimney flue,” Garcia said.

Tips such as these can prevent fires which took a toll on many Oklahomans in 2011.

“In the last year the Central and Western Oklahoma Region responded to 440 house fires and 35 multifamily fires (apartments, condos, etc.) across the region.” said Janienne Bella, Central and Western Oklahoma Region CEO. “But the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire all year and during the chilly weather.”

For more information, visit www.redcross.org/homefires.

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