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Precautions help prevent house fires in winter months

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 30, 2000
Fire officials say the number of house fires increase during winter months, mainly due to heating and Christmas decorations.
Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge said there are extra precautions people can take during the winter months, many of which are common sense ideas such as keeping clothes and other items away from space heaters. But taking extra precautions, such as cleaning chimneys, can save a life, he said.
Residents should have their chimneys inspected or cleaned at the beginning of each winter season, said Fire Safety Educator Jimmy Hoffer.
Also, residents should keep pine straw and dry leaves from rooftops because the debris is easily ignited by sparks flying from chimneys, he said.
Residents should also be careful when putting out Christmas decorations, taking care to use extension cords designated for outdoor use only and using lighting that is designated for outdoor use. Inside, residents should be careful to not overload extension cords, because circuit breakers don't always work when there is a short, Partridge said.
Hoffer said all families should develop fire escape plans and then hold drills in the middle of the night.
Hoffer said the reason for holding middle-of-the-night drills is to familiarize sleepy family members with the escape plan so that in the event of a real fire, they automatically know what to do.
Partridge said his department is happy to share fire safety information with businesses, groups and organizations.
Anyone interested in learning more can call Hoffer at 485-1824.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@meridianstar.com.
Fire safety tips:
Install smoke detectors on ceilings near bedrooms or in a central hallways adjacent to bedrooms.
Install new batteries.
Keep clothes and other items away from space heaters.
Make sure outdoor Christmas decorations are labeled for outdoor use.
Use only outdoor extension cords for outdoor Christmas decorations.
Keep trees fresh to prevent drying and possible ignition by lighting.
Be careful to not overload extension cords.
Have your chimney inspected or cleaned yearly.
Keep pine straw and other leaves off roof tops so sparks from flues do not ignite dried leaves.
Create a fire escape plan for the entire family and hold a practice drill when no one expects it.

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