Turning on the heat at home could lead to house fires - WSMV Channel 4

Turning on the heat at home could lead to house fires

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

As the temperatures outside turn cooler, many families are beginning to turn on their homes' heating systems, but for some, that could lead to having to make a call to firefighters.

Two fires early Tuesday in Nashville were caused by heaters, investigators said.

"We, unfortunately, see a lot of fires where the temps drop down and the thermostats will cause them to come on, causing a fire," said Nashville Fire Deputy Chief Kim Lawson.

Some heating systems can turn on automatically if the temperature gets low enough, so it is important to take steps now to reduce the risk of fires in your home.

"If you have moved things near these heaters during the summer months - furniture, boxes, items of clothing, anything that will burn - it's time to pay attention and really move those out of the way," Lawson said.

A good rule of thumb is to keep heaters about three feet from everything else, and never plug them into an extension cord.

But an even greater danger for fires is cooking. That is actually the No. 1 cause of fires in Nashville.

There are three things to remember if a grease fires starts: Turn off the burner, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.

Don't forget water and oil don't mix, so do not try to extinguish a grease fire with water.

Another danger are electrical fires.

"We have seen where people will run extension cords under carpet. And with a little time, walking on them, it will rub off the protective coating, causing fires," Lawson said.

And don't take any chances by plugging everything into one outlet.

Of course, not all fires can be prevented, so that's why a working smoke detector is a must. Install a smoke detector on every level in the home and check the batteries at least twice a year.

"People think that they would wake up. We did have a call this morning where the man felt the heat on his arm, and it woke him up. It's amazing to us that that was not a fatal fire without a working smoke alarm," Lawson said.

You can get a free smoke detector for your family if you live in Davidson County. Just stop by the Nashville Fire Department headquarters at 63 Hermitage Ave. during business hours. For more information, call 615-862-5282.

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