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Stay safe while staying warm
Fire - power strip.jpg
Avoid plugging space heaters into extension cords or power strips because they are not equipped to handle the electrical load.

More home fires occur in winter than any other season. As you stay warm during this winter weather, be sure to stay safe as well.

Engineer for McMinnville Fire Department Scott Norrod says one of the most common causes of fires used to be wall heaters when people would put things up against them, so make sure if you still have a wall heater that it does not have anything nearby.

The National Fire Protection Association provides ways to be safe while staying warm. NFPA says to keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, or space heaters. 

FEMA warns not to use your oven or stovetop to heat your home because it is a fire hazard and can create toxic fumes. Norrod says it is very important to check and make sure carbon monoxide alarms are tested and working in your home. FEMA suggests testing carbon monoxide alarms at least once every month.

Only plug one heat-producing appliance, like a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time. Avoid plugging a space heater into an extension cord. Space heaters transmit significant volumes of electric current and extension cords and power strips are not able to handle that amount of electricity. 

It is always a good idea to keep children away from space heaters and to turn the heaters off and unplug them before leaving the room or going to bed. Norrod suggests having a “kid free zone” away from the heater to avoid accidents. 

Portable generators can be useful during winter storms, but if they are not used safely they can result in injuries or death. FEMA recommends ways to use portable generators safely. 

Use them outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from all doors, windows, and vents. Do not use a generator in a wet area as it can cause shock or electrocution. Connect appliances to the generator with heavy-duty extension cords and do not fuel the generator when it is running. Spilling gas on the hot engine can cause a fire. 

FEMA also says to never run cords under rugs or carpets because the heat buildup could cause a fire and damage to a cord could go unnoticed if it is hidden from view. Don’t overload the circuits by plugging too many items into a single connector or adaptor. Norrod suggests speaking to an electrician when determining which generator is best for your home and units. 

One in every seven home fires and one in every five home fire deaths involve heating equipment, so make sure to educate yourselves and stay safe while staying warm during this winter weather.