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4 must-read steps to staying warm by the fireplace

House fires spike in winter months

File (FreeImages.com/Robert Horvath)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A warm, cozy fire might sound like the perfect way to enjoy a cold winter night. But before you light up the fireplace, the American Red Cross is reminding everyone about fire safety during the winter months.

This is the time of year when it is more common for fires to start. According to News4Jax chief meteorologist John Gaughan, we have historically seen a spike in the number of house fires/fatalities and injuries associated with folks trying to stay warm. 

In a recent post on Twitter, the American Red Cross of Northeast Florida said it's helped 20 families after house fires since last Thursday. 

Knowing how to properly use a space heater or fireplace is important to your safety while staying warm. 

Always remember to:

  • Keep materials like clothing, bedding and rugs at least 3 feet away from heat sources
  • Make sure all space heaters are off and fireplaces are out before going to bed or leaving home
  • Keep children away from space heaters
  • Clear out the chimney’s flue if you’re lighting up your fireplace for the first time this season

The possibility of fires is a big concern whenever there’s an early season freeze. 

“This is easily the greatest threat to the freezing/near freezing mornings we will see through Friday morning,” Gaughan said.

Right now is also a great time to check smoke detectors. Make sure they’re working and change out the batteries. Firefighters said this will be the first line of defense in any sort of fire.