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Originally published: 2013-01-30 15:50:24
Last modified: 2013-01-30 15:50:24

Our View: Heating season can create hazards, danger

Although temperatures for the beginning of this week may appear almost balmy compared to the deep freeze that has recently gripped Watauga County, there's plenty of winter weather ahead -- and plenty of reasons to remember that exercising proper caution when using alternative heating sources is paramount in preventing accidental fires.

Tragically, our community was greatly diminished by the Wednesday death of a local women in an accidental fire that officials say involved a heater. 

Our hearts and prayers are extended to her family, and if anything good can ever come of tragedy, it is in the prevention of future accidents and loss.

Fireplaces, wood stoves and other combustion heaters are excellent sources of home heating during Watauga's cold snaps -- but only if they are properly vented and will not leak flue gas into indoor spaces.

Lit candles should never be left unattended, and both candles and space heaters must not be placed within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, including drapes, furniture and bedding. 

Cords of electric heaters should not be run under carpets, and you should avoid using extension cords to plug in a space heater.

But because accidents can happen no matter how well-prepared we may be, it is important to keep a dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area being heated.

It is also wise to install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in your home -- and more wise to remember to never use generators, grills or camp stoves indoors. The fumes from those devices are deadly.

We may not be able to account for all scenarios in which home heating accidents will happen, but by practicing basic safety precautions, we are assured of being as prepared as possible.