Winston-Salem Fire Chief Antony Farmer and Fire Marshall Robert Owens are reminding residents to follow fire-prevention guidelines following a spate of fire fatalities.
“Within the last two weeks, three people have been killed and one seriously injured in house fires,” Owens said. “Most of these fires have been related to heating equipment,” he said, noting that economic conditions are causing many families to use alternative means to keep warm.
“We can reduce the number of home heating fires in our community by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly,” Owens said. He recommends these simple home heating safety tips that will keep residents warm and safe this winter.
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month and don't use the batteries in your smoke alarms for toys or other items.
- Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Install a residential fire sprinkler system in your home. It’s like having a firefighter in every room of your home ready to extinguish a fire at a moment's notice.
- Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary.
- Remove combustible materials from the area around your fireplace.
- Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
- Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container away from your home.
- Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
- Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Plug portable heater power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter. On average, NFPA research shows that heating equipment is involved in about 70,000 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated loss of more than 600 civilian deaths, almost 1,600 civilian injuries and more than $1 billion in direct property damage.
"While these numbers are frightening, nearly all of these fires are preventable,” Owens said. “Please remember to follow these tips. The Winston-Salem Fire Department wants to keep your family safe and warm this winter.”
For more information about fire safety, go to the National Fire Prevention Association web site.