How to Avoid Home Fires in the Winter - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

How to Avoid Home Fires in the Winter

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DECATUR - Electric bills can get so high during the winter months that many people result to using fireplaces and gas appliances to heat their homes. Although money is saved, these appliances cause over 30 percent of rural home fires every year. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 900 people die in winter home fires every year. How?

"It's a mixture of furnaces, candles, grease fires," said Carl Baker, Executive Director of the mid-Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross. "If you've got a fireplace and you use that regularly, make sure that the fireplace is cleaned out so that you've got some good ventilation going.

Brad Gilmar of the Decatur Fire Department says you also have to watch what's around it.

"This time of year with the decorations, if you have a mantel, you want to make sure that they're a safe distance from the fire place, and you want to make sure you have a heavy screen so that when the fire is going, the embers don't pop out."

Another place a fire can start is the stove.

"Some of the things we don't recommend is using your stove as a source of heat," said Baker.

Baker also says it's important to map out a safe escape.

"Have a plan, because you might be in different parts of the house and some places may be obstructed to get out. So make sure you have a plan and location to meet once you get out the house," Baker said.

To lower the chances of your home catching on fire, one should also make sure to have the furnace and chimney inspected annually.

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