How to Protect Your Home From Winter Fires

Grand Island, NE As the temperature drops, the chances of home fires heats up. Fire departments say Winter is their busiest time of year for structure fires.

Grand Island Fire Chief Cory Schmidt said that Grand Island is actually seeing a slow year so far in house fires. However, that's not due to better precautions. He said we've just been lucky.

Keeping warm in the Winter can come down to the proper equipment. But if it's not working properly, that equipment can lead to a deadly blaze.

Schmidt said, "Heating units such as furnaces, space heaters, fire places are a big one. A lot of times it's due to maintenance issues. We always recommend to have your furnace, fireplace, chimneys, everything like that inspected by a professional at the beginning of the year."

While heating units are the number one cause of home fires in Winter, a close second is electrical issues, especially with extra devices running.

"A lot of people don't understand that space heaters often time take quite a bit of energy to run. That big draw in power causes that wiring to heat up in a wall so anytime we're plugging in and running more than we normally do and we experience circuits or fuses popping or tripping, chances are there's a reason for that," said Schmidt.

Another big issue during the holidays is trying to use one outlet to power multiple things.

"If you do have to plug in more than one item in an outlet, make sure that that outlet is rated for it," Schmidt said. "Don't use those multi-plug adapters, use a surge protector type device instead. It's going to be a lot safer."

The best way to protect your home from a fire is something that does not change no matter the temperature.

Schmidt said, "We always preach smoke detectors on every floor, in each bedroom and outside the sleeping areas. It does take some time, but certain items such as a dry Christmas tree or outlet in a wall, that fire has either a real good chance of getting a quick start or is hidden for a while is dangerous."

Another important device is at least one carbon monoxide detector in the home, but Schmidt recommends one on each level.

Schmidt said his hope for the future is to do home inspections by request. Right now if you want your home inspected, the fire department will do it, but only when time and personnel allow.

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