Heat source hazards
Published: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 3:14 a.m.
Risk of home fires rises during cold weather
With temperatures expected to dive below freezing this weekend, area residents are bound to crank on their heaters and bundle up.
But before you plug in a space heater or think it's OK to leave Spot outside overnight, you may want to heed the advice of fire and weather officials.
Megan Crandall, spokeswoman for the Alachua County Fire Rescue, said the biggest cold weather hazards are heating sources. Alternative heating sources such as chimneys, stoves and furnaces pose fire hazards and the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, Crandall said.
"We don't have that many (winter) fires, but one is too many," Crandall said. "By and large, fires are preventable and we want to help people do everything they can to prevent them."
In 2002, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 45,500 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. These fires caused an estimated 220 civilian deaths, 990 civilian injuries, and $449 million in direct property damage, the association reported.
Fireplaces and chimneys rank first in the number of fires among types of heating equipment, the association reported. Most of these were caused by creosote build-up. Portable and fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, caused a disproportionate share of the home heating fire deaths. Space heaters were involved in 25 percent of the fires and 74 percent of the deaths, the association said.
Crandall said space heater fires are usually caused when the heater is placed too close to combustibles such as drapes. She also said residents should never use ovens to heat their homes and should have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed.
The forecast for this morning is 29 degrees, up slightly from an earlier forecast of 27. It is expected to warm up to about 56 today.
Eric Zappe, forecaster with the National Weather service in Jacksonville, said residents should take all necessary preparations to keep pets, plants and the elderly warm.
Zappe reminded residents to mind the five P's of cold weather safety: protecting people, plants, pets and pipes and practicing fire safety.
Zappe said the temperatures forecast for early Sunday morning are also 29 degrees, and patchy frost is expected in some parts of North Central Florida. Sunday afternoon will see warmer temperatures in the upper 60s and highs next week will stay in the lower 70s, Zappe said.
Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or email@example.com
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