Fire risk up in down economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire risk up in down economy

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- As the economic recession burns through your bank account, be careful it doesn't burn down your home, too.

The Waterloo Fire Department warns the down economy could increase the risk for home fires as you look for cheaper, alternative ways to heat your home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association and the Red Cross, 48% of Americans will try to lower their heating costs by using an alternative heat source, such as corn furnaces, wood pellet stoves or a simple fire place. Home heating is the second leading cause of home fires.

Waterloo Fire Rescue adds these tips for residents to take to help keep their families safe from fire during the colder months.

  • Do not leave food cooking on the stove when you are not home.
  • Have your furnace and chimneys inspected before using in the fall.
  • Make sure that your appliances vent to the outside whenever possible.
  • Follow the manufacturers directions regarding your fuel burning appliances-furnace, water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, and gas or kerosene space heaters.
  • Don't use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified serviceman check and clean your furnace.
  • Make sure that trash, papers, paint and all other flammable material are kept away from your furnace.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure that everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Make sure that fireplace openings are covered with sturdy metal screens or glass doors.
  • If you must use space heaters, place them on a level, hard and nonflammable surface such as ceramic tile floor-not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
  • Turn off space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in rooms with portable heaters.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or your garage.
  • When warming up the car on cold winter days, never keep a car running in a garage. Even with the doors open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to prevent a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas or bedrooms.
  • If possible avoid the use of candles. Never leave burning candles unattended and extinguish all candles before leaving the room.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, in each bedroom and near sleeping areas.  Test them monthly and replace batteries yearly if appropriate.
  • Establish a fire escape plan with at least two exits from every room. Families should practice their home escape plans at least once a year so that every family member including children and elderly can escape quickly and safely.
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