Extinguish winter weather fire starters


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Oh the weather outside is frightful — and the fire is so not delightful. Because of course we all love the warm and toasty feeling of warming up our homes during the chilly winter months, but we don’t want to burn down our abodes in the process.

Which is why the United State Fire Administration (USFA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are reminding everyone to “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.” Thanks to an increase in cooking, heating fires, holiday decorations and winter storms, the number of home fire deaths is highest in the months of December, January and February, according to the NFPA.

“Recent fire deaths during this holiday season are tragic reminders that we are at the time of year when home fires peak,” said Lorraine Carli, VP communications for NFPA. “Taking simple steps to prevent fires and making sure you have working smoke alarms can save lives.”

Check out the NFPA’s safety tips to protect yourself and your home from winter fires:

• Make sure your heaters have enough space. Move all items that can burn at least 3 ft. away from heating equipment, including furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
• Establish a 3-ft. “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Never heat your home with an oven.
• Hire a professional to install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• A qualified professional should clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys every year.
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s space heater safety checklist here.
• Use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
• Invest in a sturdy screen for your fireplace to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container with a lid. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
• Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.
• Develop and practice a home escape plan that includes two ways out of each room and an outside meeting place.