Fire officials share safety tips for this winter

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Across the country, 1,700 fires were started by heating sources last winter, and space heaters caused 81% of fire deaths. That’s according to the National Fire Protection Association.┬áIn Rio Rancho, fire crews put out eleven fires during the months of December, January and February.

“We want to make sure that people are safe and protected in their home when they’re using these devices,” Rio Rancho Fire Marshal Jessica Duron-Martinez.

That is why the Rio Rancho Fire Marshal’s Office, along with other New Mexico departments, are giving people a fair warning.

“We will be posting safety tips on social media for winter safety,” Duron-Martinez said.

The first video, posted at the beginning of November, encourages people to regularly maintain and clean home heating sources like stoves, fireplaces and chimneys. 

You can watch the full winter safety message here. Officials gave additional advice to our KOB 4 crew:

“When we’re taking our ashes out of our fireplace, we want to make sure that those are put in a metal bin and cooled down before we dispose and also keep at least a three-foot distance from the front of the fireplace to any combustible,” Lt. Gerard Bauer said during a fire safety demonstration Thursday morning.

He said the same three-foot rule applies to space heaters which should be closely monitored so they do not overheat or get knocked over. Some heaters will make a loud buzzing noise or shut themselves off when that happens.

Something as simple as a knocked over candle could lead to disaster as well.

“Now that wax is just going to drip off, and eventually that’s going to travel to something and catch on fire,” Bauer said.

He also said to inspect your extension cords.

“You notice here we have the insulation as pulled back,” he said while handling a frayed cord. “We can have arcing, and we can have a failure there while we’re using it.”

Watch the full demonstration in the video above.