Cooler weather means more house fires

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DENISON, TX -- We've already seen several house fires in the past month, and firefighters say we'll likely see several more because October is one of the top months for fires.

With the holidays right around the corner, lit candles are a popular decoration and cooler temperatures mean plenty of us will be using the fireplace and cranking the heat up to stay warm. But firefighters want to make sure you take some important steps to keep your family and your home safe.

When the cold weather hits, this becomes a common sight for firefighters. To prevent fires, they are urging all of us to take some precautions while heating our homes.

While space heaters can add that extra warmth, they are the most common fire starter.

"Nothing within ten feet of that space heater. Don't pile clothes in front of it. Don't sit it close to the curtains," assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray said.

Ray says anything near one of these could light up fast. Keep your space heater away from anything flammable. Never use an extension cord to plug it in, and turn it off before leaving the room and going to sleep. We've also seen candles that have sparked fires, llike this one in Sherman just this week. But one place you might not think to check out is your fireplace.

"You really need to have your chimney inspected before you use it," Osmon said.

Sabrina Osmon with Chimney Sweeps of Texomaland says a simple inspection could prevent a devastating fire.

"There's all kinds of stuff you have in your fireplace that you have no idea is in there," Osmon said.

Over the spring and summer things can build up in your chimney. But there is also a hidden danger inside, that you might not be aware of.

"Creosote is a natural by-product of gases and smoke that come off your wood. So as it goes up the flu it starts sticking in certain places over time. And just at a quarter inch thick can cause you to lose your home," Osmon said.

Before using your fireplace the National Fire Protection Association recommends you have it inspected once a year and cleaned every other.

Always have a plan in place in case your home were to catch fire. Taking these steps could save lives, homes and thousands of dollars.

The American Red Cross wants the number of house fires not to rise as the temperatures drop, so it offers the following fire prevention tips:

• All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

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