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Putting a freeze on winter fires

PRINCETON — Fire safety during the winter months is the focus of the “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” campaign by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

The joint promotion targets both home heating concerns and safe cooking practices, which are the two leading causes of home fires in the United States, according to NFPA President Jim Shannon. Both types of fires peak during the winter months, but fortunately both home heating and cooking fires are largely preventable with some basic guidelines in place, he said.

Locally, Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley said the winter months do not necessarily mean there will be an increased number of structure fires, but the potential is greater with people using their furnaces and space heaters.

Thinking about safeguards, homeowners should have their furnaces inspected, if they haven’t already done so, Woolley said. For people using wood burning fireplaces, they should also have their chimneys inspected by a qualified person and have the chimney cleaned if needed. For people who use space heaters, they should make sure to use them properly, including making sure they are not near anything combustible, Woolley said.

As always, residents should make sure their carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in good working condition and with good batteries, the fire chief said.

As far as the use of candles in the home, Woolley said candles can be used with proper adult supervision as long as the candles are in proper canisters and kept away from combustible materials. Homeowners have to be diligent when using candles, he said.

Also, people should remember not to use ovens to try to heat the home, Woolley said. Ovens are not designed for that purpose and can cause a safety issue with open doors.

In other guidelines stated by the NFPA/USFA “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” campaign, people should also remember to stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If the person has to leave the kitchen for even a short period, he/she should turn off the stove. Also, anyone who smokes should use only fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside, the campaign states.

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