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Winter Home Fire Safety Tips from the Heartland

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January 18, 2012
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Winter Home Fire Safety Tips from the Heartland

It’s been a relatively warm winter in many parts of the US this year, but home fires show no sign of slowing down. Perhaps it’s because more people are heating with portable appliances, a major cause of residential fires during the heating season. Whatever the cause for home fires continuing at a frightening pace, today I’m offering some timely tips on home fire safety, courtesy of several fire prevention experts in Oklahoma

When the temperature in Oklahoma takes its annual wintertime slide, residents will be relying on a variety of heat-generating equipment to ward off the chill. Because heating - and cooling - equipment ranks right behind cooking equipment as the second leading cause for residential fires, it is worthwhile for property owners to take steps to prevent potentially sparking fires in the home.

More Sobering Statistics

"The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) statistics indicate there are more than 300,000 residential fires annually, and many of those fires and fire related deaths are preventable," said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. "The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also reports that about half of all home heating fires happen in December, January and February. This means homeowners should be especially vigilant during the winter months."

Background on Home Heating Safety

Home heating equipment covers a range of apparatus such as central heating units, portable and stationary space heaters, fireplaces and chimneys. Heat transfer systems and some devices like water heaters also fall into this category. Besides ensuring there are working smoke detectors in the home, there are other preventative steps homeowners can take as well. For instance, all fuel-burning home appliances such as furnaces should be professionally inspected on a regular basis. Similarly, fireplaces and chimneys should be checked and cleaned at least once a year.

More Fire Safety Tips

Tommie M. James, Family and Consumer Science, Extension Educator for Bryan County reminds homeowners to avoid leaving portable heaters operating while unattended or while residents are sleeping in the home. "Portable electric air heaters are designed as temporary supplemental heating," said James. "If you decide to purchase a portable heater, it's a good idea to pick one that is listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. That means the product has been tested to ensure it meets specific safety standards and it requires manufacturers to provide use and care information to consumers."

Make Sure Your Escape is Planned - and Practiced

Homeowners need to make sure windows and doors with security bars have emergency release devices inside so they can be opened quickly. For homes with two or more levels, each family member, including children, should be able to get out of upper floors. "Almost as important as having an escape plan is practicing it twice a year. Make sure everyone knows how to escape if the smoke alarm is triggered, whether it is day or night. Practice should be as realistic as possible, but be sure to give kids a chance to master the plan before holding the drill," said James.

Most reputable alarm companies (FrontPoint included) recommend at least one monitored smoke and heat sensor for every system they sell. The main reason is that your standard smoke detector is really just a noisemaker. Yes, it’s much better than nothing, and it does save lives in some situations – but you want to know the fire department is being summoned as soon as possible, and only a monitored system does that. You may be away – or, much worse, overcome by smoke in your own home. That’s when you definitely want a system that quickly reaches the responding authorities who can help. Here’s a link to my previous post on monitored fire protection.

FrontPointcontinues to provide the latest in interactive, wireless home security, including fire monitoring for no additional monthly fee. We are members of the NFPA, and fully support their goal of protecting us in our homes and workplaces – especially with this year’s theme: “Protect Your Family from Fire.”Just one more reason why FrontPoint is recognized as the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.

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