State fire agency offers safety tips to prevent fires during extreme cold

Heather Willard

(Douglas County, Colo.) With the forecast for severe cold in Colorado this week, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control is educating residents about heating source safety.

Anything from space heaters, candles, ovens and Christmas trees could start a fire if you’re not careful.

“With a lot of people staying in their homes because of the extreme conditions, being fire cautious is essential,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan. “Following a few simple tips will ensure a happy and fire-safe holiday season.”

According to the West Douglas County Fire Protection District, at least two structure fires have been reported and worked in December in Douglas County — one in Castle Rock on Dec. 16 and another on Dec. 19 in Highlands Ranch. Firefighters rescued pets from each structure, and no injuries were reported but both remain under investigation.

The state is rapidly approaching the first anniversary of the Marshall Fire, named the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history in terms of lost structures. On Dec. 19, a structure fire turned into a wildfire, prompting Boulder County officials to issue evacuation orders while firefighters battled the blaze and the wind fueling it.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 26% of fires reported between 2015-2019 were in home environments, for an estimated average of 346,800 home structure fires per year. The Association found most home fires and casualties result from one of five causes: cooking; heating equipment; electrical distribution and lighting equipment; intentional fire setting; and smoking materials.

To protect your home this winter, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control released a set of tips to stay warm safely:

  • During a loss of power, people may use alternate heating equipment, portable generators and candles. Working smoke alarms can alert individuals.
  • Do not use candles for emergency lighting, as many items in your house are flammable. Instead, use flashlights for emergency lighting and stock up on batteries.
  • Have a qualified repair company or licensed electrician inspect water-damaged appliances and home wiring after a flood. Water-damaged electronics can short and cause enough heat to ignite nearby materials.
  • Portable generators are useful during storms, but if not used safely, they can cause injury and death. Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and away from your home to prevent carbon dioxide build up in your home.
  • Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • Propane grills, propane heaters, charcoal grills, or similar devices should never be used indoors as supplemental heat sources due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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