The Paducah Fire Department wants you to heat your home safely this winter.

Home fires occur more often in winter months than any other time of the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, while the National Fire Protection Association reports that nearly half of home heating fires involve portable space heaters. The space heaters are involved in 86% of home heating fire deaths.

"Most home heating fires could have been prevented by taking precautions," stated Greg Cherry, deputy chief of fire prevention, in a news release. "Avoid placing objects, especially flammable objects such as bedding, newspapers, magazines, clothing and curtains, too close to a heating source.

"Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, space heaters, wood stoves, candles and radiators. Also, be sure to establish a 3-foot child- and pet-free zone around the heater, and never put a space heater in a child's room."

Deputy Fire Marshal April Tinsman also encouraged everyone to make a fire escape plan for their homes.

"Talk with your family about how to exit each room of the home and where to meet once outside," Tinsman stated.

"A fire escape plan is very important to discuss, especially if your home has two or more stories or if you live in an apartment building or above the ground floor. Also, be aware of the items that you may need in case of an emergency. Keep the telephone, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and aids such as walkers, canes or wheelchairs nearby."

To keep safe this winter season, PFD encourages the public to follow these heating reminders:

• Plug only one heat-producing appliance, such as a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time. Also, never use an extension cord or power strip with heat-producing appliances.

• Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Make sure the heating appliance (space heater and/or kerosene heater) has an automatic shut-off so if it tips over, it shuts off.

• Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home.

• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.

• If using a fireplace, keep a glass or metal screen in front of it to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out. Put the fire out before going to bed or leaving the home, and properly store ashes in a metal container with a lid at least 3 feet from the home.

• If you use natural gas or propane, install carbon monoxide alarms and test them monthly.

More safety information can be found at nfpa.org and usfa.fema.gov.

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