Freeze Warning issued: Practice safety against home fires

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal

The first freeze warning of the year was issued for Monday night until 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. With the first freeze warning in mind - it might be wise to test smoke alarms to help protect your family from a house fire which continues to be the nation’s most frequent disaster during COVID-19, states the Coastal Bend American Red Cross. 

"One of the biggest thing we see is with heaters not being plugged in correctly. Many times people will connect a heater to an extension cord and surge protectors which is dangerous," said San Diego Fire Chief Juan Soliz. "With the colder temperatures families are trying to keep warm. We want to remind people that heaters should not be placed on top of anything or near flammable items such as curtains. If you have a central unit, make sure you get them serviced yearly and before you turn them on especially if you have a gas furnace. You don't want to wait until it's cold to turn on your furnace. You want to turn it on before to help prevent fires." 

Since January, volunteers responded to more than 830 home fires throughout the Texas Gulf Coast region to help more than 3,900 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance, and recovery planning. 

“The need to stay safe from home fires hasn’t changed during COVID-19,” said Alex Garcia, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Coastal Bend. “That’s why it’s critical to have working smoke alarms, which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half."

Take a few minutes to test your smoke alarm and check out the safety tips when starting up the space heaters for the first time this year.  

HOW TO ‘TURN AND TEST’ 

Press the button on your smoke alarms, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace the batteries if needed — at least once a year, if your model requires it.

Also, follow these steps: 

Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. That’s because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms and follow the instructions.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.

SPACE HEATER FIRE PREVENTION TIPS 

Give it room. Place the heater on a solid, flat surface, at least three feet from anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture or bedding. If you’re using it in a workshop or garage, be especially mindful of flammable items like paint, gas cans or matches.

Set it smart. Don’t put the heater on top of furniture or cover it with anything—both actions can increase the risk of fire. Also, be mindful of high-traffic areas and doorways where the heater may pose a tripping and burning hazard.

Watch the cord. Keep the power cord from getting stepped on and don’t run it under rugs, carpeting or furniture.

Plug It Directly. Using a space heater with extension cords and power strips could cause overheating, so plug the heater directly into the outlet. Be sure the plug fits tightly and is the only device plugged into the outlet.

Watch for water. To prevent shocks, always keep electric heaters away from water and never touch an electric heater if you’re wet.

Coastal Bend Freeze Warning