Tips to stay safe during winter 'fire season'

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SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters have had a very busy month.

There have been dozens of residential fires in December. In one case, the cause was a space heater. In another, a Christmas tree.

Because of the frequent fires, KSL News asked firefighters to show us around a home to talk about some basic things people can do today to make sure you and your family are safe.

In December alone, KSL has covered 26 fires at homes and apartment complexes — nearly double the number of fires in November.

A total of six people died in those fires, and the winter "fire season" is just getting started.

"Nationally, in December, January and February we see a lot more residential fires," said Eric Holmes, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority.

Here are a few fire safety tips Holmes suggests:

First, take a good look at your Christmas tree.

"If you touch that real tree and the needles are starting to fall from them, it's time to get rid of it," Holmes said. "Let's get it out of the house."

Next, check your smoke detectors.

Firefighters say your smoke detector is your first line of defense, so take care of it by replacing the batteries every six months. Many people do so while changing their clocks for daylight saving time.

Also, Holmes suggests vacuum out your detectors once in a while and giving them a test once a month. Smoke detectors only last 10 years, so check the date on the back of your smoke detector and make sure it's current.

If a fire starts in a room, Holmes says to close the door.

"Not only are you protecting the rest of your house and the people in it, but you're also eliminating one of the things fire needs, and that's oxygen," he said.

One of the most important things firefighters want you to know is your escape plan. Stay low to the ground as you get out of the house, have a meeting spot for your family and be sure to practice ahead of time.

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Tania Mashburn


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