Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 3:51am
Bitter cold temperatures can lead to a variety of unpleasant consequences. Home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires. Holiday decorations and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter. Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.
The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents of these best practices for staying safe and healthy:
1. Resist the temptation to warm your car in the garage - even with the garage door open, carbon monoxide in living spaces is the likely result.
2. The extreme cold temperatures increase the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. The probability of overexposure increases with the consumption of alcohol. If you will be outside, make sure your skin is covered and protected from the cold.
3. Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
4. Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.
5. Never use your oven to heat your home.
6. Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
7. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
8. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
9. Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
10. Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947