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Millwood Chief Offers Tips to Avoid House Fires

MILLWOOD, N.Y. – In the wake of devastating fires in Stamford , Conn. and South Salem in recent weeks, Millwood’s fire chief, Greg Santone, is offering tips for New Castle residents to avoid similar fates.

Santone said the risk of house fires are high during the winter season, and residents should proceed with extra precautions when trying to heat up the house. He said many blazes begin in the fireplace, which can be dangerous if not cleaned properly.

He also recommends using seasoned wood and making sure that no combustibles are anywhere near the face or opening of the fireplace.

Another cause of fires this time of year can be Christmas trees. “We recommend when they get dry to remove them and not have any source of ignition or combustible items anywhere near the Christmas tree,” said Santone. “You have to be careful with lighting, too. You want to make sure all your electric connections are in good repair. We certainly don’t recommend keeping the tree.”

Santone stressed the importance of being prepared for a worst-case scenario. He believes that, even if only done once, families should perform a run of how to escape safely during a fire.

“EDITH is the acronym. Escape Drills in the Home,” said Santone. “I encourage people to really do it. Not just look at it on paper or talk about it, but to go through the motions.“

Santone said chances of escape are much greater when a sleeping area has more than one exit. “I actually had my boys when they were younger climb out the window and down the ladder. I made them do it once under normal conditions, so they can do it when its dark and smokey,” said Santone.

While Santone encourages residents to have an escape plan for a worst-case scenario, he recommends proper maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors above all, so fires can be detected before a house is engulfed. He recommends having at least one in each sleeping area of the home.

If somebody is awaken by a smoke detector, Santone recommends staying low and checking for heat before opening the door.

Another common mistake Santone sees that could be easily avoided includes fires started by electronic heaters. Often times, he says, the heaters come in contact with bedding material and window coverings.

He also said that when cleaning fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, the contents of the firebox should be disposed with extra precaution.

“Even if you’re convinced that there’s nothing smoldering, we encourage people to put it in a metal container, and to put the metal container far away from the home,” said Santone. “Never, never empty the fireplace and put it in a plastic garbage bag then put that in with your normal trash.”

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