Offers tips on keeping warm safely

Many residents try to stay warm by using heating equipment in their homes every year.

Unfortunately, many discover that using heaters carelessly can cause serious damage, injuries and even death.

"It's a problem faced every year not just in Alice but across the nation" said Fire Marshal Patrick Thomas of the Alice Fire Department.

Fires caused by heaters are no stranger to Alice and Jim Wells County residents.

Every year the Alice Fire department responds to at least one of these very preventable fires.

And even though the number of heater fires has declined in Alice, having one fire is one too many.

With the weather now producing colder fronts it appears that the time in which we start warming our homes is here.

Alice Fire Department encourages all Alice and Jim Wells County residents to learn how to prevent heating fires during this winter. By developing safe habits, you can reduce your risk of a needless fire.

Be smart. Don't use your heating equipment carelessly. We recommend these guidelines for preventing heater fires:

Keep all heaters at least three feet away from combustible objects, such as walls, curtains, drapes and furniture, especially beds. Use a yardstick or meter stick to measure the distance. Be sure your heating equipment is in good operating condition. Watch for worn electrical cords, gas leaks or faulty switches. Keep your heating equipment (including ducting) clean. Don't use the heater if it is damaged. Have your heating equipment serviced by a qualified expert at least once a year. Check both central systems and portable equipment. Have your fireplace, wood-burning stove and chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Follow all instructions for your heating equipment exactly. Re-read the instructions before starting your heater. Be sure all heaters, stoves, fireplaces and chimneys are properly installed and insulated. Touch nearby floors and walls. If they are warm or hot, the stove or chimney could be too close and start a fire. Use only approved heaters and fuels. Check for UL or Factory Mutual labels. Most new heaters have safety features built in. These are safer than older heaters. Wear close-fitting pajamas or night clothes. Avoid loose, billowy gowns or robes. This will reduce the risk of igniting your clothes by contacting heaters or cook stoves. Warn senior citizens and children to stay away from heaters. Be sure there is adequate ventilation in any area where there is an open flame. The flame in your heater needs fresh air. Keep the gas, heating system ventilation ducts in the open position. Provide ventilation for wood - or gas - fueled heaters by opening a window.

It's important to remember that the Alice Fire Department and its staff are committed to preventing fires and working with all residents in these efforts. Please feel free to contact Fire Marshal Thomas or any other employee at the Alice Fire Department with any questions or comments.