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Chances of a house fire go up as temperatures go down

As the weather cools off and people spend more time indoors, the chances for a house fire increase. Here are some hazards to which you should pay particular attention:

  • Portable space heaters, open fireplaces, and wood stoves can be dangerous if misused. Keep curtains, draperies, and other flammable material away from them. Make sure heaters have adequate ventilation, and always follow the manufacturer's operating instructions.
  • If you use a kerosene heater, make sure it has an automatic shut-off in case it tips over. Use only K-1 kerosene; gasoline can cause an explosion.
  • Smoking is a major cause of house fires. Never smoke in bed, and keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Install an adequate number of smoke detectors. Most fatal fires start between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while you are sleeping. The advance warning of a smoke detector may mean the difference between life and death. Nine out of 10 fire victims are already dead before the fire department is ever called, mainly from smoke and toxic gases. If you already have smoke detectors, don't forget to replace the batteries semi-annually, when you change your clocks to reflect the change to standard or daylight saving time.
  • Have a well-rehearsed family escape plan. All rooms, especially bedrooms, should have two escape routes. Have a predetermined meeting place outside the house so you can be sure everyone is out safely. Never re-enter a burning house for any reason.
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available.

Source: Georgia Office of the Insurance Commissioner

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