(WTXL) - Officials are reminding people about home heating tips that can help them keep their families and property safe during bitter cold temperatures.
Those tips include ensuring that all homes have a working smoke alarm, a requirement of Georgia law.
Most fatal fires start between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while the family is asleep, said Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
The advance warning of a smoke alarm may mean the difference between life and death. Nine out of 10 fire victims are dead before the fire department is called, mainly from smoke and toxic gases, a news release said.
If you already have smoke alarms, remember to replace the batteries annually, he suggests.
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires in Georgia. Portable space heaters, open fireplaces, and wood stoves can be dangerous if misused.
Keep them away from curtains, draperies and other flammable material. Make sure heaters have adequate ventilation, and always follow the manufacturer's operating instructions.
Have your home heating unit checked annually to be sure it is working efficiently and safely. Make sure all fuel-burning appliances and fireplaces are properly vented.
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, leave immediately and call the gas company from elsewhere.
If you use kerosene space heaters, make sure each heater has an automatic shut‑off in case it tips over. Use only K‑1 kerosene in a space heater; gasoline can cause an explosion. Wait until the heater has cooled and take it outside before refueling.
Each household should have a well-rehearsed family escape plan. All rooms, especially bedrooms, should have two escape routes. Have a predetermined meeting place outside the house so you can be sure everyone is out safely.
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