Westerville’s Fire Chief Brian Miller is reminding residents to use caution when staying warm during the cold winter months.
Half of all home heating fires occur during the months of December, January and February. “If you’re using a space heater, make sure you maintain a three-feet clearance around it and never leave it unattended,” said he said. Residents using fireplaces should use a screen and glass doors in front of the flames to prevent sparks from causing a dangerous situation. Additionally, ash from the fireplace should always be kept in a fire-safe container, like a metal can.
Cooking-related incidents are the leading cause of home fires in the United States. "Many fires in our community are started by unattended food on the stove," said Chief Miller. Fire prevention experts recommend residents get in the habit of using cooking timers, keeping flammable materials away from stovetops and keeping a clean oven.
As the holiday seasons come to an end, it's easy to forget to care for holiday trees while they remain in the house. "Some of the worst fires we've responded to have been the result of Christmas trees that have caught on fire," he said. Chief Miller encourages residents to continue to water trees as long as they remain in the house to prevent them from drying out.
Watch this short video for more fire safety tips:
In addition to taking precautions to prevent fires during the winter, Chief Miller recommends residents prepare their homes for worst-case scenarios. Families should have a fire exit plan, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers readily available to help contribute to a safe, warm winter.