Jacksonville, FL - You’re likely turning on some kind of heater to help get you through the freezing temperatures we’re expecting along the First Coast tonight.
But with that, comes a higher chance of starting a fire in your home, so WOKV spoke with Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters Presidents Randy Wyse about how to stay safe AND warm during this cold blast.
Wyse says there are a number of things that can go wrong with a fireplace. You want to make sure your flue is in good shape, have a screen to block any embers that want to pop out of the hearth, and keep any flammable material several feet away. The danger comes not just when the fire is lit, however, but when you think it’s extinguished.
“Scoop out the embers and take them outside and wet them down,” he says.
He says that’s the best way to be sure your fire is completely out- and you should never leave the fireplace unless the fire and embers are quenched.
If you favor a kerosene heater, Wyse says you should always refuel outdoors. As chilly as it may be, the danger of spilling the fuel and igniting it in your home is too great. If you opt for a space heater, he says the key is proximity to flammable items- the heater should never be too close to your bed or couch even though you want the warmth.
When it comes to being fire safety-savvy, however, Wyse says a good defense is just as important.
“Making sure that you have an operating smoke detector in your house, that way you can be alerted if there is any fire in your home,” he says.
While Northeast Florida’s firefighters are always vigilant, Wyse says they approach nights and days like what we’re seeing now with a slightly different attitude. They know there will be a higher demand for their services- from responding to house fires to ice-related car accidents- so they work quickly on the scene in order to free themselves for the next scene.
He expects firefighters will be incredibly busy through this front and says they’ve already responded to a few structure fires because of the cold.