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Get ahead of the winter freeze

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - -- The leading months for home fires in the U.S. are December, January and February. Hopefully everyone is ready for the heating season now that colder temperatures have finally arrived. If not, the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration offer the following 10 tips to help you get ahead of the winter freeze and help reduce your risk to winter fires and other hazards:

1. Furnaces need to be inspected and serviced by a qualified professional at least once a year.

2. Chimneys and vents should be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Not cleaning a chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires from built up creosote. This service needs to be done at least once a year.

3. Ensure wood for the fireplace or wood stove is dry, seasoned wood.

4. Ensure a fireplace screen, metal or heat-tempered glass, is in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.

5. Have a covered metal container ready to use to dispose cooled ashes.The ash container should be kept at least 10 feet from the home and any nearby buildings.

6. Ensure children know to stay at least three feet away from the fireplace, wood or pellet stove, oil stove or other space heaters.

7. Ensure portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.

8. Portable space heaters should be plugged directly into an outlet, not an extension cord, and placed at least three feet from anything that can burn. Examples include bedding, paper, walls, and even people. Place notes throughout the home as a reminder to turn off portable space heaters when leaving a room or going to bed.

9. Test smoke alarms to make sure they are working. Every home must have smoke alarms on every level of the house, inside each sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. For the best protection, the smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.

10. Test carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they are working. Carbon monoxide alarms should be located outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

For more information on how to prevent winter fires, visit or

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