Crews battle rash of house fires; 21 tips to avoid danger in you - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Crews battle rash of house fires; 21 tips to avoid danger in your home

(WVVA) - Winter months can typically bring an increase in the number of house fires in the region, and this week's cold snap has been no exception.

On Tuesday alone, crews across the Two Virginias responded to at least four devastating house fires.

In Monroe County, a family on Johnson's Cross Road in the Wolf Creek area lost their home when a fire broke out around 8:30 a.m. Hours later in Ronceverte, Greenbrier County, fire destroyed another family's home.

Later that evening, house fires were reported in Crab Orchard, Raleigh County, and on River Road in Summers County.

Early Wednesday morning, a family in Northfork, McDowell County, lost their home in a blaze.

These fires are in addition to several others that have destroyed homes and businesses over the past several weeks.

While the causes of these most recent fires have yet to be revealed, the use of indoor heating sources during winter greatly increases the risk of house fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home heating equipment fires occur between December and February.

The NFPA offers these tips to stay safe when heating your home:

  1. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  2. Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.
  3. Never use your oven to heat your home.
  4. Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  6. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  7. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  8. Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  9. Test smoke alarms monthly.

Heating your home can also bring the risk of carbon monoxide-related illnesses or even death. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas that is created when fuels such as propane, wood, coal or oil burn incompletely.

Heating and cooking sources inside your home can produce carbon monoxide. The NFPA offers these tips to prevent a tragedy in your home:

  1. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and mounting height.
  3. Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  4. Call your local fire department's non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  5. Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries.
  7. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  8. If theCO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  9. If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  10. During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  11. A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  12. Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.
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