The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

November 8, 2013

Officials urge caution as peak time for heating fires looms

PALESTINE — Jack Frost hasn't been nipping noses in this area for very long yet, but as temperatures continue to drop, emergency management officials are urging people to keep their heating sources from becoming fire hazards.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports on its website, www.nfpa.org, “while only 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths. Heating equipment continues to be the second leading cause of home fires behind cooking and the second leading cause of home fire deaths behind smoking.”

Anderson County's Emergency Management Director Tammy Lightfoot said the most important thing to remember about using electric space heaters is... space.

“Make sure any electric heater is at least three feet away from any potential fuel source — that's paper, wood, bedding, furniture, curtains, rugs, books, anything,” Lightfoot said. “Make sure they're sitting levelly, out of the way of regular foot traffic, especially if there are children or pets in the area. Keep an eye on them, too. If they are old, replace them; if they start to make a weird sound, replace them; and never leave them on if you leave the house.”

According to the NFPA's website, home fires are more prevalent in winter and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased fire risk.

“Whether your chimney supports a wood or coal stove or just a fireplace, be sure to have it cleaned and inspected at least once a year to reduce your risk of having a fire,” NFPA Vice President of Communications Lorraine Carli said in a release published at the NFPA website. “Heating fires and the deaths they cause can usually be prevented with awareness and a few simple actions.”

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