MONROE, LA (KTVE/KARD)– The temperature has dropped noticeably and the cooler weather means preparing your home for winter. However, before you start, the Monroe Fire Department has some tips to put a “Freeze on Winter Fires”
The most important thing you can do for your family is having a fire exit strategy. This includes knowing the multiple exits in your house and determining a common meeting place outside the house so all family members can be accounted for.
December, January and February are the peak months for house fires. Heating is the second leading cause of home fires, deaths, and injuries in the USA. Fire officials say space heaters should remain 3 feet away from anything that is flammable or combustible.
“When using your space heater, ensure that it is plugged directly into a wall outlet. We do not recommend using extension cords or any other form of hooking up your space heater because they may overheat…causing a fire,” said Jairus Thomas, Fire Inspector with MFD.
Here locally, fire officials say it is common for individuals to use a gas stove as a form of heating, which could be very dangerous.
“We do not recommend using gas stoves as heating. Typically people can fall asleep and if the flame goes out, natural gas and other poisonous gases can go throughout your house and possibly cause an explosion,” said Thomas.
On average, more than 22,000 structure fires are started due to fireplaces and chimneys. This is why Monroe Fire officials say they need to be inspected and cleaned before you use them.
“When you are starting your fireplace, try to use a starter log to start your fire. If you use things like lighter fluid or gasoline those can create a risk for you to get burned and for a fire to start,” said Thomas.
In addition, MFD says you should not use paper to keep a fire going as it could make the fire sparks bigger. Those sparks could fly onto the carpet or furniture causing a fire. For extra safety precautions, keeping a gate around a fireplace could protect small children and pets.
Finally, when decorating your house with a live Christmas tree, make sure you keep it wet so it doesn’t dry out.
“When you are plugging up your lights to your Christmas tree, ensure that the cords and bulbs are in working order. That means that there are no frays in the cord, that all lights are tightly fitted, and there are no loose lights. As well, plug your Christmas lights into a wall outlet and try not to use extension cords,” said Thomas.
A good way to have a heads-up when a fire has started in your house is by making sure to change the batteries twice a year in your smoke alarms. You can do this when the seasons change or on Daylight Savings.
If you are struggling to keep your heat on and pay bills, you can apply for assistance with the Ouachita Multi-purpose Community Action Program. For more information on winter fire safety, click here.