Home heating safety tips to prevent house fires

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DENISON, TX -- Temperatures have dipped meaning we're all looking for ways to stay warm. Local fire departments want to remind you that when you're heating your home, it's important to take safety precautions.

Once old man winter strikes, Denison Fire's Bruce Geilhausen says they see an increase in the number of house fires.

"With all the use of space heaters and your fireplaces, the fires do increase during the winter months," he said.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 900 portable heater fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss.

"They're small and they're easily tipped over. And it's easy to put combustible materials too close, where they do catch on fire," Geilhausen said.

52 percent of space heater fires occur because they are too close to items that can burn. Geilhausen says if you're going to use a portable heater, keep them at least three feet away from flammable items such as furniture or blankets.

He adds If you leave the room or go to sleep you must turn them off, and always plug them directly into an outlet.

"They pull a whole lot of juice, and a lot of it's more than what extension cords are rated for, and they'll melt the extension cords and cause a fire," he said.

It's also important to keep an eye on fireplaces and wood stoves.

"All that natural gas, propane or wood, if you use that in your house to heat the house you want to be sure and have a carbon monoxide detector," Geilhausen said.

He says by simply following these tips and reading your appliance's directions, the risk of a fire is greatly reduced.

"Accidents happen and the way we can prevent them is to follow the proven guidelines for safety," Geilhausen said.

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