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October 5, 2012

Cool weather brings fire threat

NORMAN — Heating sources are the leading cause of house and apartment fires during the cold weather, according to an American Red Cross press release.

Local forecasts are calling for the first round of cold weather in Oklahoma. As temperatures start to dip, the Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources and to make a plan in case of a home fire. This is also a good time of year to change smoke detector batteries or to replace old smoke detectors.

Heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends keeping anything that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment and fireplaces and to never leave these unattended.

“In the last year the Central and Western Oklahoma Region responded to 440 house fires and 35 multi-family fires (apartments, condos, etc.) across the region,” said Janienne Bella, Central and Western Oklahoma Region CEO.

The 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 at least three feet away from heating equipment.

· Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. 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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