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As Temperatures Plunge, Be Careful Keeping Warm

November 23, 2013

By The High Point Enterprise

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With winter weather here and the holidays upon us, many residents are lighting fires for warmth or have the stove on for holiday meals.

Firefighters and the National Fire Prevention Association warn that there are typically more home fires and home fire deaths in cooler months. They want to raise awareness of winter fire risks and provide information to keep residents safe. This month, the High Point Fire Department has responded to 24 fires, with 11 of those being house fires.

"Normally, we run a lot more during the winter season because of heating and cooking," said Capt. Denita Lynch.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths, according to NFPA. November usually signals a time of increased cooking fires. Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires, with roughly three times the average number. It also marks the beginning of the holiday season. Christmas and Christmas Eve rank second and third in cooking fires.

"Thanksgiving Day is usually when we start seeing an increase in cooking fires," Lynch said. "A lot of the times, it is because decorations, Christmas trees and cooking fires. A lot of times fires are due to overloaded outlets and fires from candles."

Heating is the second-leading cause of home fire deaths, behind smoking, and the second cause of home fire injuries, according to NFPA. Between 2007 and 2011, most home heating fire deaths, 81 percent, and injuries, 70 percent, involved stationary or portable space heaters.

"A lot of people have not properly maintained them and had them inspected," Lynch said. "They should be sure that they are not burning anything in their fireplaces except wood. Some people are using alternative heating, due to the economy, and we caution them make sure that materials are 3 feet away from anything that can burn."

Fire Safety Tips:

--Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable heater

--Never use your oven for heating

--Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional

--Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed

--Test smoke alarms at least monthly

--Have your furnace, chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected for the season

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Copyright High Point Enterprise (NC) 2013

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Story image: Trees dominate the skyline on a cold morning at Lake Manawa, Iowa, in front of the MidAmerican Energy power plant, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. AP Photo/Nati Harnik

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