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Avoid fires, while heating houses for winter weather

WESTERN NEW YORK — Many individuals have turned up the thermostat to stay warm, or resorted to alternative heating methods to cut down on costs, this winter. Various methods of heating can be dangerous if not used properly.

The American Red Cross has asked Western New York residents to be cautious, while heating.

The Red Cross responds to as many as 170 house fires every day. That equals one fire, every 8 minutes.

Follow these safety tips, to prevent fires when heating the home:

– Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected, once per year.

– Never use a kitchen stove or oven to heat a home.

– Do not leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.

– Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace, before going to bed or leaving the house.

– Place a space heater on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes or other flammable objects and keep out of reach of children and pets. Look for a space heater model that shuts off automatically, if it falls over.

– When using a fireplace, use a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks or rolling logs and keep the fire in the fireplace.

– Keep all flammable materials, such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs, at least 3 feet away from heat sources like space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.

– Install smoke alarms on every level of a house, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

– Every month, ensure that smoke alarms are working properly, by pushing the test button.

– Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once, per year.

– Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

When planning for fire emergencies, ensure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of the home and set up a meeting place outside, in case of fire.

Practice that escape plan at least twice per year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll, if clothing catches on fire.

For more information on how to prevent fires in the home, visit the “home fires” section on The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York is a United Way Organization.

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