Extreme cold prompts fire concerns

Fire officials urge people to use caution

INDIANAPOLIS - Fire officials are warning the public that the extreme cold temperatures could result in more house fires.

Experts urge Hoosiers to use caution and make sure to follow instructions with space heaters and smoke alarms.

Experts with the Indianapolis Fire Department said knowing how to use space heaters could mean the difference between life and death.

Space heaters are selling fast as furnaces and heating systems are stressed due to the extreme cold.

Mike Pruitt with the Wayne Township Fire Department said it is crucial to follow instructions with space heaters. Never use an extension cord – it should be plugged directly into the wall. Keep it three feet away from anything that could catch fire and never leave it on when not home.

It is also essential to have working smoke detectors inside a home.

Fire officials said the battery was not properly installed in a smoke detector inside a home where two people died in house fire Thursday.

"You just want to make sure you have a battery in your smoke detector, know that sound, know what it sounds like, make sure that battery is connected properly," IFD Chief Courtney Gordon said.

Firefighters in Wayne Township battled another house fire Thursday afternoon. The residents got out OK, but it could have been much worse.

"There was not a working smoke detector in the home which is unfortunate," Pruitt said. "If this had happened several hours later, it could have had some real tragic consequences."

Pruitt said it is not enough to have smoke detectors; homeowners need to take care of them by testing them once a week and changing the batteries as needed.

"A working smoke detector and an emergency escape plan, that is the most important thing you can have," Gordon said.

Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1

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