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Protect your home from winter fire hazards

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 07, 2022

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Structure fires are on the rise in Twin Falls. This time of year, officials say they experience an increase in house fire calls.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, December through February are the peak months for heating-related fires.

“Every year around this time we definitely see an increase in home fires unfortunately. A lot of that comes of course with the cold-weather and alternative heating sources,” said Matthew Ochsner, communications director for the Red Cross of Idaho and Montana.

When using a space heater, make sure you’re doing so safely. This includes keeping it at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire and only plugging it directly into an outlet. Do not use an extension cord.

Before enjoying your fireplace, make sure you’re using dry wood and keeping up with chimney cleaning.

“One of the bigger ones is chimney fires from not properly cleaning chimneys. A lot of times people will clean their chimneys in the fall and then about this time of year, they start to get creosote built up in them and they’re not continuing to do another cleaning,” said Tim Lauda, Twin Falls Fire Marshal.

With a white winter comes the added threat of carbon monoxide.

“[With] the amount of snow we’ve been having you want to make sure that your dryer vent, and if you do have a gas furnace that the vent for that, is clear so you don’t have building up carbon monoxide with the gas in your house,” said Lauda.

Make sure to routinely check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.

In the event of alarms sounding, having a plan makes a difference.

“It’s important that you have a fire escape plan that you develop with your family. You should be able to determine two ways out of every room… Develop a meeting place where everyone will meet outside the home and then go ahead and practice that plan at least twice a year,” said Ochsner.

For help creating a plan or free smoke alarms, you can reach out to the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho and sign up for a home fire safety visit.

For more fire safety tips, visit the Red Cross website.