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Simple steps to reduce fire risk in your home or workplace this winter

Posted at 12:11 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 13:32:13-05
Fire prevention in the winter

The Michigan State Firemen’s Association, E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety, and the Michigan Mutual Aid Box Alarm System remind Michiganders to take some simple steps to reduce the chance of a fire from occurring in their home or workplace this winter season.

With the recent tragic fire deaths which occurred in Philadelphia and New York City, these trusted fire safety organizations want to provide some tips to keep everyone in Michigan S.A.F.E.

“As the temperatures drop, people tend to resort to using space heaters and other methods to heat their homes and businesses,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, President of the non-profit organization E.S.C.A.P.E. and Public Information Coordinator for the MSFA and MI-MABAS.

Home fires occur more in the winter months than in any other season. Half of all home heating fires occur during December, January and February.

Here are some tips to keep you safe this winter:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3-feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
  • Plug space heaters directly into an electrical outlet.  Never leave them unattended.  When you leave the room or go to bed, unplug the space heater.  They are not designed as a primary heating source.
  • Do not use extension cords or power strips with high-wattages heat-producing appliances (such as space heaters).
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly, replace batteries at least annually in alarms that don’t have lithium batteries, and replace alarms that are over 10 years old with new technology.
  • Practice your home fire escape plan with everyone in your home frequently.  Develop a plan for older adults and infants who may have difficulty leaving on their own.
  • Store cooled ashes from wood stoves or fireplaces in a tightly covered metal container, and keep it outside at least 10-feet from your home or any other nearby buildings.
  • A closed door can slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.  Keep bedroom doors closed at night when sleeping.
  • When evacuating your home due to a fire, close all doors behind you to limit the spread of fire and the introduction of fresh air that will feed the fire.

Additionally, with some schools utilizing virtual learning due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, it is essential that younger children have proper supervision and are not left alone, especially around appliances such as stoves and near tools such as lighters and matches.

Lighters, matches and cigarettes should be secured up high out of reach of children, in a locked cabinet.

If a parent or caregiver discovers their child has a fascination or obsession with fire, contact the local fire department or school counselor for further assistance.

If people are having difficulty heating their home, contact their local utility or call 211 for assistance. McLeieer reminds people to never use a stove or oven as a source of heating.