Keeping homes safe and warm this winter

Home utilities can be quite the expense, and the high cost of heating in the wintertime has led many homeowners to search for alternatives. Wood-burning stoves and space heaters are acceptable heating methods, but they also contribute to many house fires in the winter months.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the numbers are grim: equipment used to heat homes caused more than 57,000 fires in 2010, killing 490 people.

Lynda Baquero spoke to Fire Chief Thomas Magno about ways to keep homes warm and safe, starting with the fireplace.

"Always make sure you have your flue inspected once a year, cleaned if necessary. Very important, always have a safety screen, okay, it’s gonna keep any embers that are popping out, in the fireplace, keep it safe,” said Magno, “Another important thing is to have a fire mat or material such as this slate, god forbid, anything comes out, it’s not gonna burn."

Magno turned his attention to how to safely use stoves to heat homes, especially in times of emergency like power outages.

"Just like a fireplace, you wanna set up a safety zone."

The safety zone means keeping children and pets away from the heat regardless of whether the source is a kitchen stove, a fireplace or a space heater.

"Leaving papers and magazines around, someone opens the door, the wind comes, pushes it right into it, starts a fire and we've had fires even with pets knocking these over," said Magno.

The fire safety expert also recommends that fire detectors are placed on every floor of the home, including the basement, and should be tested monthly to make sure they work properly. He also recommends replacing the battery once a year and replacing the device every five years.

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