A few tips from the Buckhannon Fire Department to prevent home fires during winter months

BUCKHANNON – Space heaters are one of the most common fire hazards in the late fall and winter months.

Buckhannon Fire Department career firefighter John Brugnoli said the most common calls the city department gets in the winter months are related to the use of space heaters.

“I would say space heaters that have stuff around them – piles of clothes, linens, stuff like that – that’s easily the biggest one,” Brugnoli said. “Keep them clear of all clothing, make sure they’re clean, keep them out of areas where you can have animals running around to knock them over.”

“A lot of them have an automatic turn off if they are knocked over, but there are still some older ones that don’t have that,” he added.

Another issue Brugnoli said the department encounters is people trying to thaw frozen pipes, which can sometimes lead to fires.

“When it starts to get really cold, do not be sticking turbo heaters underneath houses to unthaw or prevent frozen pipes,” Brugnoli said. “Every year we get a good fire from that.”

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, 50 percent of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.

Here are a few tips the website listed:

Move anything that’s flammable at least three feet from any heat sources like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiator and space heaters.

Keep portable generators outside as far away from windows and from a home as possible.

Only plug one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.

Speaking of winter-related hazards, Brugnoli also encouraged people to be cautious when driving in icy conditions.

“If there’s ice and snow, take it slow,” Brugnoli said. “Even if there isn’t a lot of snow out there, we get a lot of ice, so just be careful, take it slow. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle if something were to happen, have an extra blanket, flashlight, and stuff like that. Make sure your cellphone is charged. Make sure somebody knows where you’re supposed to be going and when you’re supposed to be back.”

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