By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The holiday season means many people will be firing up heaters, stoking fireplaces and lighting candles. While this spreads holiday cheer, it can lead to fires.
Fire Marshal Trent Hawkins said the winter months historically mark an increase in home fires in Stillwater. Heating equipment and candles are often the culprits.
Nationally fires started by candles in December are twice as many as other months of the year combined, Hawkins said.
“In older homes with floor furnaces, we see an increase because people lay things on them during the milder weather months and don’t think about the floor furnace coming on,” Hawkins said.
He directed residents to the National Fire Protection Agency website which offered these tips:
• A furnace should be serviced at least once a year.
• Not cleaning your chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires from built up creosote. This service needs to be done at least once a year.
• Use dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace.
• Use a fireplace screen that is metal or heat-tempered glass, in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.
• Have a covered metal container ready to use to dispose cooled ashes.
• Make sure your children know to stay at least three feet away from the fireplace, wood/pellet stove, oil stove or other space heaters.
• Check if your portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
• Make sure portable space heaters are plugged directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and placed at least three feet from anything that can burn; like bedding, paper, walls and people.
• Have your smoke alarms tested so you know they are working. You need a smoke alarm on every level of the home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. For the best protection, the smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.)
• Have carbon monoxide detectors tested and in working order.