LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – With cold weather gripping Acadiana, many are trying to stay warm at home. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of fire, especially when people use unconventional ways to heat their homes.
Firefighters know all too well that when temperatures begin to drop, the threat of house fires goes up.
“We’re concerned, the fire service, anytime the temperature gets as cold as it’s about to get,” says Alton Trahan, with the Lafayette Fire Department.
The coldest temperatures usually occur at night, which makes things more dangerous.
“These things are tragic because they happen at night when everyone is sleeping,” adds Trahan.
There are precautions you can take when heating your home to ensure your safety. According to Trahan, the incorrect use of space heaters is one of the main causes of heating-related fires.
Space heaters can short out and spark fires if not wired correctly.
“Space heaters should be plugged directly into the wall so that it doesn’t overload any receptacles,” says Trahan.
This means space heaters should not be powered with extension cords or plugged into power strips.
You should also never leave a space heater unattended.
“You wanna make sure you use it during the daytime or when someone is home and not while you’re sleeping at night,” adds Trahan.
Where you put the heater is also important.
“We recommend that it’s three feet away from anything that can catch fire,” says Trahan.
Trahan says he’s seen fires caused by unconventional heating methods.
“We still have old, traditional people that use their stove tops for heating, which is a very dangerous situation,” says Trahan.
There are also safety precautions you must take when lighting a fireplace in your home.
“It is recommended that you discard the ashes in a metal container away from the home–you definitely don’t want to put it in a plastic container or a garbage can under the patio or next to the house,” explains Trahan.
Trahan says every home should have at least one working smoke detector.