Great Falls Fire Rescue offers residential winter safety tips - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Great Falls Fire Rescue offers residential winter safety tips

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According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, heating appliances are the second-leading cause of residential fires in the United States.

With that in mind, Great Falls Fire Rescue has some tips about winter fire safety.

They see an increase in the number of calls related to carbon monoxide in homes during the winter, because of the improper use of heating appliances.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is created when common fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood or coal burn incompletely. The odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is virtually undetectable without the use of detection technology like a CO alarm.

GFFR recommends installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and changing the batteries twice a year.

Call 911 if you feel any flu-like symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

Only use approved heaters, and always have them appropriately serviced. If they are older, they should be looked at.

Read the manufacturer's recommendations, make sure it's listed that a laboratory has tested it and approved it for in-home use.

Always shut off heating appliances when you aren't using them.

Don't put heating pads directly on any furniture.

Don't plug space heaters into power strips or small extension cords; they are meant to be plugged directly into the wall.

"If you suspect that it not working properly and you notice an appliance or a heating pad is super hot, please, you can call 911 or please let somebody know if you think its not working properly," said Colton Walter of Great Falls Fire Rescue. "Yes, you should immediately unplug it, and probably move it to a hard surface that's not flammable."

Walter stresses that if you have any questions or concerns about fire safety, you can call Great Falls Fire Rescue at 727-8070.

More information is available on the ESF website, including these additional recommendations:

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 860 home fires caused by holiday decorations occur each year. An additional 210 home fires are caused by Christmas trees per year. Follow these steps to ensure you decorate your home safely during the winter holidays.

  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations are marked for proper use

  • Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

  • Inspect all lights, decorations, and extension cords for damage before using

  • Exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines

  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire

  • Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights together

  • Water your Christmas tree daily

  • Keep all decorations at least 3 feet away from heating equipment or an open flame

  • Purchase electrical decorations from reputable retailers and that are approved by a national recognized testing lab such as UL, Intertek, or CSA

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