Monday, 20 May 2024

Alternative heating due to rising fuel prices leads to fire concerns

 

LAKE COUNTY – With the cost of fuel for heating expected to rise this winter, many Americans may seek out alternative sources of fuel, and that could increase the incidence of home fires.


The American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have released results of a September survey showing the majority (79 percent) of Americans are concerned about the rising cost of heating their homes, and many will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter.


The survey identified additional behaviors related to appliance maintenance and cooking that could also present home fire hazards this winter.


This follows an extremely long and dry fire season on the North Coast. In June and July, wildfires destroyed thousands of acres, and local Red Cross groups set up four shelters to help people who were forced to leave their homes.


Now, as evening temperatures drop, local residents may be thinking of using ways of heating their homes that turn out to be deadly.


With a costly heating season set to begin, the survey results provide a critical opportunity to remind people about the things they can do to prevent home fires and keep their families safe and warm this winter, said NFPA President James. M. Shannon.


“If people use alternative heat sources to reduce energy costs, it is critical they use devices that are new or in good working order, and they turn off units when they go to bed or leave the room,” Shannon said.


According to NFPA reports, cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires.


The survey revealed the majority of Americans are concerned about the rising cost of heating their homes (79 percent), and that 48 percent of households will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter. Alternative heating sources include portable space heaters, stoves, ovens and fireplaces.


One third (3 percent) of people with fireplaces reported they never cleaned or inspected their chimneys. The survey also found 23 percent of respondents did not consider it essential to make sure someone is home when food is cooking on the stove.


Respondents also revealed another unsafe behavior, which is disabling (37 percent) smoke alarms when they go off in a non-testing situation. More than half (53 percent) of the households surveyed have not taken any of three common actions in most home fire escape plans, which includes discussing with family members how to get out of the home, deciding on an outdoor meeting place and practicing the plan.


NFPA and the American Red Cross offer these and other safety tips:


  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you must leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.

  • Give space heaters space by keeping them at least 3 feet from anything that can burn. Turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.


For additional fire safety tips visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/homefires or the National Fire Protection Association, www.firepreventionweek.org.


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