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Cold weather reminders for staying safe and warm

Temperatures have reached the point where most of us can no longer deny that winter is coming. With the change of seasons comes an increase in the need to heat our homes — and fire departments are warning residents there is also an increased need for caution.

One popular way to keep warm is space heaters, which officials remind must not be plugged into power strips, but rather directly into a wall outlet, because of the increased energy load. Many power strips can overheat with that kind of load.

Other common sense reminders include:

∫ Maintain a safety zone around space heaters or open flames that exclude both flammable materials and kids and pets. That zone should be at least three feet.

∫ Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room, or going to sleep.

∫ Have a professional install fixed space heaters, or other equipment such as water heaters or even central heating units.

∫ Do not use an oven to heat your home.

∫ Use the proper fuel for non-electric heaters.

∫ Have a professional inspect and, if necessary, clean your chimney; and make sure fireplaces have proper screens in place.

∫ Test smoke detectors and replace batteries, if necessary.

Be smart about staying warm — and keep an eye on family, friends and neighbors who may need a little help getting ready for the winter switch.

‘Tis the season for a higher fire risk. Take the extra steps necessary to stay warm and safe.

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